The New York Rangers have Plenty to be Thankful For

NEWARK, NEW JERSEY - NOVEMBER 18: Mika Zibanejad #93,Erik Gustafsson #56,Vincent Trocheck #16 and Chris Kreider #20 of the New York Rangers celebrate after a goal during the first period against the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center on November 18, 2023 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
NEWARK, NEW JERSEY - NOVEMBER 18: Mika Zibanejad #93,Erik Gustafsson #56,Vincent Trocheck #16 and Chris Kreider #20 of the New York Rangers celebrate after a goal during the first period against the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center on November 18, 2023 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /
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NEW YORK, NEW YORK – NOVEMBER 12: Alexis Lafreniere #13 reacts with Jonathan Quick #32 of the New York Rangers after a shootout against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Madison Square Garden on November 12, 2023 in New York City. The New York Rangers won 4-3 in a shootout. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – NOVEMBER 12: Alexis Lafreniere #13 reacts with Jonathan Quick #32 of the New York Rangers after a shootout against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Madison Square Garden on November 12, 2023 in New York City. The New York Rangers won 4-3 in a shootout. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) /

Above the playoff line:

Thanksgiving in the U.S. isn’t just about turkey and stuffing; it’s also a big deal in the NHL. About 75 percent of teams in a playoff spot on Turkey Day usually clinch one in the spring. So, if the playoffs kick off now, the Blueshirts would host the Toronto Maple Leafs (10-5-2) in the first round.

Elsewhere in the Metropolitan bracket, the upstart Washington Capitals (10-4-2) staredown the Carolina Hurricanes (11-7). In the Atlantic, the league-leading Boston Bruins (14-1-3) play the Detroit Red Wings (9-6-3) in an Orginal Six faceoff.

Out West, the reigning Stanley Cup champions Vegas Golden Knights (14-4-2), would host their newest rivals, the Seattle Kraken (8-8-5), and face the winner of the Los Angeles Kings (11-3-3)-surging Vancouver Canucks (13-6-1) series. Allow me to stop for a moment and say that if you’re looking for a Western Conference team to root for, the Canucks are it. They’re a team that didn’t have high expectations placed on them before the season.

Yet Rick Tocchett has these boys playing hard, smart, and together. Defenseman and captain Quinn Hughes leads the league with 31 points. Right behind him is teammate and former Ranger JT Miller, who has 30. Elias Petterson is sixth with 28. In goal, Thatcher Demko leads the league with +10.4 goals saved, which is above expected.

In the Central, the Dallas Stars (12-4-2) would host the St Louis Blues (10-7-1), while the Colorado Avalanche (12-6-0) face the Winnipeg Jets (11-5-2). However, hold your hockey sticks because being outside the top eight in the conference or above the line doesn’t mean a team’s fate is sealed. There’s a solid 25 percent that defies the odds. Sure, it might sound like a bit of a gamble, but hey, one in four teams snags that postseason ticket.

Sitting in first place, the Rangers should feel good about their chances. Here’s to a season full of gratitude and playoff dreams!