Defeat in the shootout to the Sabres on home ice leaves the Rangers in a bad situation. They have just one game remaining, against Toronto at Madison Square Garden. With 81 games played, they have 107 points, good enough for 3rd in the Metropolitan right now. New Jersey has played 80 games and has 108 points. Carolina has also played 80 games and has 109 points. See where I’m going with this?
It’s unlikely, but the Rangers could get some help elsewhere and still get home ice or possibly even a division title. It’s very unlikely, and I cannot stress this enough, but if I told you before the start of the season that the Rangers would have a mathematical shot for the division title after game 81, you would not have complained. So what needs to go right for the Blueshirts to clinch the division?
Well, it’s simple. Carolina’s final two games are against Detroit and Florida. New Jersey’s final two games are against the Sabres and Capitals. They need 4 regulation losses from these games. If they get that and manage to defeat the Toronto Maple Leafs in regulation, the Rangers will steal the crown of the Metro out from under Carolina and New Jersey. With the Canes’ record being 4-5-1 in their last 10 and New Jersey’s 5-4-1, this isn’t impossible.
There is also a chance for the Rangers to steal home ice in the first round if they are unable to take the division. Simply? They need one of these two teams to lose both games and defeat Toronto in regulation. That will give the Rangers 109 points. That would either be more than the Devils, or they’d pip Carolina on the regulation wins tiebreaker. There’s a very outside shot at home ice moving forward.
With just a few days remaining in the regular season, Blueshirts fans should be watching that out-of-town scoreboard eagerly. If they can get some help tonight with the Hurricanes hosting the Red Wings and the Devils taking on the Sabres, then we may see Game One at the Garden as opposed to the Prudential Center or PNC Arena. A lot needs to go right, but stranger things have happened in this sport.