The New York Rangers may, or may not, have helped themselves in the playoff picture with a dismal showing against the rival New York Islanders. However, it did help to clarify the playoff seeding a bit for both clubs.
Heading into tomorrow’s regular season finale against the Detroit Red Wings at Madison Square Garden (12:30pm start), the Blueshirts can finish no lower than the first wild card position (facing the Atlantic Division leading Florida Panthers) or third in the Metropolitan Division (securing a series with the Pittsburgh Penguins).
Aside from whether you would rather face the red-hot Penguins with Sidney Crosby and former Rangers forward Carl Hagelin or the timeless future Hall of Famer Jaromir Jagr, the numbers are finally coming into focus.
Let’s start with the easy scenario, if the Rangers lose to Detroit in regulation tomorrow, AND the Islanders lose both of their two remaining games in regulation, then the Rangers face Pittsburgh and the Islanders slip to the wild card against Florida.
Why? The tiebreaker is ROW (regulation and OT wins). Currently, the Rangers and Islanders are tied for points at 99, but the Blueshirts hold 42 ROW to the Islanders 40.
If the Rangers lose in regulation, the Islanders would only need one point in either of their final two games to overtake third place and send the Rangers to South Florida.
You with me so far? Not too bad.
However, what if the Rangers lose in OT or a shootout? Well, they would temporarily move into 3rd place with 100 points and the Islanders have two games to try and get two points. One point would tie both clubs and Rangers would take third based on ROW.
If the Rangers win in regulation, OT, or a shootout, then the Islanders would need three points in their final two games to overtake third. ROW would become irrelevant as the Islanders could not achieve 43 ROW should the Rangers win in regulation or OT, and winning their final two games would give them more than 101 points.
As of today’s practice, the Rangers have already gone into pre-playoff rest mode as the Blueshirts will not dress Viktor Stalberg, Mats Zuccarello, Dan Girardi, Ryan McDonagh, and Henrik Lundqvist tomorrow. Rookie Oscar Lindberg will be in the lineup and the Rangers are likely to recall forward Marek Hrivik from Hartford.
At this point, it is more likely that the Rangers will end up in the Atlantic Division bracket, but nothing will be decided until the final buzzer in either of the two remaining Islanders games (at Brooklyn Saturday against the Buffalo Sabres, and home again Sunday against the Philadelphia Flyers).
Should be an interesting finish.
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