I have said on more than one occasion that the Rangers are in no man’s land. They are not in the chase for the Metropolitan Division title being 6 points back of the leading Carolina Hurricanes. They are not involved in the Wild Card race seeing as they are 12 points clear of the Islanders who are in the top wild card and the Isles have played a game more. But there is another team that the Rangers aren’t far behind.
New Jersey. Although the Devils have been the surprise of the Metropolitan, they have not completely evaded the grasp of the Rangers just yet. New Jersey sits 5 points ahead of the Rangers in the standings right now with the same number of games played. They sit a point behind the Hurricanes, but the Hurricanes have two more games to play than either the Devils or the Rangers.
New York has closed the gap on a team that once was miles ahead of the Blueshirts for second in the division. Ahead of tonight’s game with the leading Carolina Hurricanes, it looks like it might be a distance the Blueshirts can overcome. With the Rangers and Devils set to meet again on the 30th of this month, there is a very real chance that that game could be played with 2nd in the Metropolitan on the line.
Between now and the end of the season, the Devils play five games against teams that are currently in playoff places. That does not include games against Pittsburgh, Ottawa, Buffalo, and Washington where it is possible the Devils drop more points. For New York, it’s 6 games against teams in playoff positions. This doesn’t include two games against Buffalo or a meeting with Washington.
There is a long time left in this season and the Rangers are closing the gap on their Hudson river rivals at a rate of knots. If they are able to catch the Devils and nab home ice in the first-round matchup, there will be a major advantage for Gerard Gallant and his hockey club to grab the initiative and ensure they get the victory to embark on another deep playoff run, hopefully.