Wow. These teams don’t lose.
Carolina tightened the screws again last night against Detroit, and now the Rangers might have to win both of their remaining games.
The Hurricanes are not only two points back, but they tied the Rangers in the first tiebreaker, regulation/OT wins. So if they are tied in points and R/OT wins after Saturday’s games, Carolina wins the second tiebreaker—the season series (which, by the way, was 2-2 in actuality, but 2-0-2 for the Canes, since the Rangers’ wins came in OT and the skills competition).
Magic Number: 3 with two to play.
So, by my calculations …
Bottom line for a playoff berth:
If the Rangers win one of their games and get at least a point in the other, they’re in.
If the Rangers win tonight, Carolina has to win both of its games (tomorrow at Atlanta, Saturday vs. Tampa Bay) and hope the Rangers lose in regulation to the Devils.
If the Rangers don’t get a point tonight and Carolina wins in regulation tomorrow, then it’s a tie going into Saturday’s finales … and Carolina gets in on Saturday with A) a win; B) a regulation loss by the Rangers; or C) if each team gains a point.
(Can somebody check that math for me?)
Here’s another way to look at that final scenario:
If the Rangers fail to get a point tonight and Carolina wins in regulation or OT tomorrow, these will be the standings going into Saturday:
Hurricanes 91 points, 35 regulation/OT wins (and the season-series tiebreaker).
Rangers 91 points, 34 regulation/OT wins.
There are some other possibilities because of shootouts, the Bettman Bonus Points and the R/OT wins tiebreaker, but it makes my head hurt to consider them (Anybody care to take a whack at it?).
Then there’s the chance that Buffalo backs up and complicates things.
For example, if the Rangers get two points in their last two games, and Buffalo gets none, the Rangers are in. And catching Montreal is still a mathematical possibility.
Editor’s note: I will be the least surprised person on the planet if somebody finds an error in my calculations.