New York Ranger: Ranking postseason positions

New York Rangers v Tampa Bay Lightning
New York Rangers v Tampa Bay Lightning / Mike Carlson/GettyImages

There are seven games left for the New York Rangers in the NHL regular season, and the Blueshirts have a lot to play for. As of Wednesday morning, New York sits at the top of the NHL with 104 points, but there are teams hot on their tails, such as the Dallas Stars, Boston Bruins, Carolina Hurricanes and Colorado Avalanche.

The race for the President's Trophy this late in the season is as tight as its been in years, and this is not the only standings the Rangers have to watch. They still are fighting for first place in the Metropolitan Division with the Hurricanes, first in the Eastern Conference and the right to play the second Wild Card team, and there are teams vying for playoff positioning. Though New York has clinched home ice for Round One of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, its opponent is still unknown.

As the Stanley Cup Playoffs start this month, it's time to rank New York's potential first-round matchups and seedings as the postseason goes on.

1 (Best Outcome). First in the Eastern Conference

President's Trophy or not, first place in the Eastern Conference is the best outcome New York can achieve. With it comes the right to play Wild Card 2 in the first round instead of Wild Card 1 and home ice throughout the Eastern Conference Playoffs.

Home ice matters - in the 2022 and 2023 postseason, New York combined for a 9-4 record at Madison Square Garden, which is known to be one of the best playoff environments in hockey. To open up at home against playoff opponents is huge, especially if New York gets to later rounds against teams like the Hurricanes.

This is by far the best outcome New York can achieve, and if it wins the President's Trophy, it means home ice throughout the playoffs. The approach needs to be one game and one round at a time, but this is something to keep in mind.

2. Second in Eastern Conference, First in Metropolitan Division

This is where Rangers fans have been debating - would New York rather play the first Wild Card, which will probably be the Tampa Bay Lightning, and if they win, get home ice for the second round of the playoffs if they make it, or would it rather play a weaker opponent and have to play the first two games on the road.

The concern with playing the Lightning is warranted. Tampa Bay has been playing better hockey as of late, has a Hart Trophy candidate in Nikita Kucherov, has the No. 1 power play in the league and has all the experience. But, the Rangers are a better team at the moment.

In a potential second round series against Carolina, home ice matters. In the Rangers-Canes series in 2022, the home team won every game except for Game Seven, where New York went into Carolina and advanced. Still, home ice is what you want.

3. Second in Metropolitan Division

There are benefits to coming second in the Metropolitan Division, mainly that New York will face a weaker opponent in the first round: whether the Washington Capitals, Philadelphia Flyers or another team, the Rangers have the upper hand.

Still, there are negatives that come with this. Right now, the Capitals are slated to come in third in the division. New York sturggled against Washington in two games this season, and with their scoring power the Capitals are still a scary opponent.

This comes back to the home ice discussion, and playing the first two games in Carolina in the second round (if New York gets there) is much different than playing at Madison Square Garden. The Rangers did win that series in 2022, but they were on the ropes multiple times. Home ice over Carolina, if both teams get there, would be the best possible scenario.

The Eastern Conference, like every year, is a gauntlet, and every game down the stretch matters. Regardless of what happens, New York has a real chance to go on a run. Now, fans will have to wait for more clarity before the Stanley Cup Playoffs get underway.