Capitals inch closer to being the Rangers’ first round opponent

TAMPA, FLORIDA - OCTOBER 12: The Stanley Cup is shown before the first period of a game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Pittsburgh Penguins at Amalie Arena on October 12, 2021 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
TAMPA, FLORIDA - OCTOBER 12: The Stanley Cup is shown before the first period of a game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Pittsburgh Penguins at Amalie Arena on October 12, 2021 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /
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Friday night was a quiet night in the NHL, but there was one game that could affect the New York Rangers’ playoff future.

Washington pulled out a close one in Arizona, winning 2-0. It was a 1-0 game until a John Carlson empty net goal.  What it means is that Washington now has 99 points, tied with Pittsburgh and Boston.

The first tiebreaker is regulation wins (RW), followed by regulation and overtime wins (ROW).  Boston has the tiebreaker with 36 regulation wins.  Pittsburgh and Washington each have 35 so the Penguins 41-39 ROW advantage.

So, although Washington is still the second wild card team, they inched a little closer to overtaking the Penguins for third place and that would mean a first round meeting with the Rangers if the Blueshirts finish second.

Here are the standings:

Metropolitan Division

Carolina:  108 points,  44 RW, 49 ROW,  4 games left
Rangers:   108 points, 43 RW, 47 ROW, 4 games left
Pittsburgh:  99 points, 35 RW, 41 ROW,  4 games left
Washington:  99 points, 35 RW,  39 ROW, 4 games left

Atlantic Division

Florida:   118 points, 41 RW, 53 ROW,  5 games left
Toronto:  108 points,  43 RW, 49 ROW,  4 games left
Tampa:   102 points,  35 RW, 45 ROW,  5 games left
Boston:  99 points,  36 RW, 45 ROW,  5 games left

Who the Rangers could play

If the Rangers finish first:

Boston:  If the standings remain the same and the Rangers finish in the top slot, they will play the Bruins.
Tampa:  If Boston can overtake Tampa for third place in the Atlantic Division, the Rangers could play Tampa as long as the Lightning finish ahead of Washington or Pittsburgh in the first wild card spot.
Washington:  They play the Capitals if Washington can overtake Boston or Tampa for the top wild card spot.
Pittsburgh:  They play the Penguins if Pittsburgh finishes in the first wild card spot, ahead of Boston or Tampa

If the Rangers finish second:
Pittsburgh:  They play the Penguins if Pittsburgh holds onto third place ahead of the Capitals.
Washington:  They play the Capitals if Washington can overtake Pittsburgh for third place in the Metropolitan Division.

Saturday’s games

Saturday will be a great day for scoreboard watching.  By the time the Rangers and Bruins take the ice at 3pm, the Hurricanes’ game in New Jersey and Penguins’ game in Detroit should be over. The Rangers will know if they have to win to stay tied for first or if a win will give them first place all alone.

Boston needs to win if they want to protect their spot in the top wild card slot and also stay in contention for third place.

A Pittsburgh win will give them a two point lead over Washington for third place.

The last important game is in Tampa where the Lightning host the Predators.  A Boston loss and a Tampa win will go a long way towards the Lightning locking in third place in the Atlantic Division.

Remaining games

Here are the games remaining for all of the East contenders:

Rangers (4):  @ Boston, Carolina, Montreal, Washington
Hurricanes (4):   @ New Jersey, @ Islanders, @ Rangers, New Jersey
Pittsburgh (4):   @ Detroit, @ Philadelphia, Edmonton, Columbus
Washington (4):  @ Arizona, Toronto, Islanders, @ Islanders, @ Rangers
Tampa (5):  Nashville, @ Florida, Columbus, @ Columbus, @ Islanders
Boston (5):  Rangers, @ Montreal, Florida, Buffalo, @ Toronto

We’ll keep you updated every day.

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