The Blog Headquarters supercomputer has been spewing out probabilities left and right, and my understanding is yes, if Carolina loses in regulation to Tampa Bay tonight, the Rangers are in.
Furthermore, if the Devils get even a point, the Rangers would be guaranteed not having to play Ottawa in the first round because the Senators then couldn’t catch New Jersey.
Why does this matter? Some of you would argue this doesn’t matter at all since the Senators are a shell of what they were. But I still think of that team as dangerous given its firepower and experience.
In fact, what may qualify as a best case scenario for the Rangers is a four-five match-up against the Devils while the surging Capitals meet Ottawa in a three-six. That way one of those two teams — both of which contain a bit of an X-factor — is gone after the first round.
And by the way, don’t think for a second the Rangers are taking their 7-0 record against the Devils this season for granted. As players and coaches have said, those wins have almost all come down to a single save or flukey lapse — Nigel Dawes’ shoulder anyone? — and could very easily haveÂ gone in the other direction. It may give the Rangers confidence in theirÂ abilityÂ to come back against the Devils, which they did in each of the last two wins. But that’s about it.
Is this all premature? Of course.
But that’s just what we do here.
More in a bit….