Some of the Rangers went to the Yankees game yesterday. Some of them were headed out on a boat (thanks to Aaron Voros’ twitter). And it was one of their best hockey nights of the season.
Everybody the Rangers needed to lose lost. And now it’s all right there. Put together some wins, and the playoffs are right there for the taking. This is one of the craziest races ever. The Rangers could — if they can win some games here — finish as high as sixth. They could, if they don’t, finish as low as 14th.
Philly is the obvious choice to be caught, with Brian Bush-league in goal — did you see him against the Isles last night? — and the Flyers playing like carcillo, and that home-and-home with the Rangers next weekend.
But Boston can’t score, Atlanta’s just not that good and has a brutal schedule remaining. Neither, actually, is Montreal very good. And the Rangers now have a game in hand, or two, on every team they’re chasing.
They can also pretty much eliminate Tampa Bay tonight, because if the Lightning loses it can still mathematically get to 82 points, but it won’t be able to match the victory totals to get in in a tiebreaker.
This nutty race, and a caller to WFAN radio a couple of nights ago, reminded me of perhaps the most unbelievable last day of any season I’ve ever seen. This is the 40th anniversary of the 1970 final day, after the Rangers had lost their next-to-last game and put themselves in a desperate situation. The first tiebreaker back then was total goals scored. The Rangers trailed Montreal by two points, and not only needed to win, and not only needed Montreal to lose, but needed to score a lot more goals than the Habs. I forget the exact number they needed.
So when the Rangers went ahead of Detroit at home, and it became apparent they would win, and when Montreal fell behind Chicago, both the Rangers and Canadiens pulled their goalies in the second period! The Rangers won 9-5. The Habs lost something like 10-2, and the Rangers made the playoffs.
This is one of those many times where I miss my friend John Halligan, who recently passed away. I could have called him and gotten all the exact details of that 1970 final day, in a minute