My math … you know by now to get your own calculators out to learn the truth when I start tossing numbers around.
But this is how I see it. If Winnipeg loses once in regulation in its final three (at Buffalo tonight, at Washington tomorrow, home against Montreal Thursday) then it can max out at 53 points. If the Rangers get two points in their final three games (at Florida tomorrow, at Carolina Thursday, vs. Devils Saturday) that’s 54.
Not going to break down all the possibilities with Bettman Loser’s Points, or the “ROW” tiebreaker, etc., and I’m pretty sure Winnipeg can still finish first in the SouthLeast, but that in that case Washington would finish behind the Rangers.
So the Rangers could clinch a spot as early as Tuesday night. I think.
1) I’m going to come right out and tell you that my favorite part of the game – maybe my favorite moment of the season—was when they played “Sweet Caroline” to honor the sports fans of Boston, and they showed that woman in the Bruins jersey waving the American flag. Chills. Goosebumps. Tears. Just freakin’ awesome. I also hadn’t heard until then that Neil Diamond flew to Boston to sing it in person at the Red Sox or Bruins game (not sure which) on Saturday.
2) Captain Callahan. Sure set a tone with those first few shifts … the goal at :34 on the great play by Hagelin (he’s made quite a few big plays lately), and then the two or three hits that followed. It didn’t seem the Devils were terribly interested in getting smacked around like that. Callahan understands that the voting for the Steven McDonald Extra Effort award is over, right?
3) You would think a team like the Devils, built for so long on discipline, would not get so crazy distracted during a game that they needed to have just to keep their season going. Originally I thought the first conduct minor was to Pete DeBoer, but he said it wasn’t. So I don’t know who it was, but the Rangers’ power play didn’t make the Devils pay at 2-0 there. Could have been devastating. Then Patrik Elias, the most experienced Devil, got one. Then DeBoer got himself a game misconduct – not that it mattered at that point. But, geez.
4) Must say, though, that the officiating was kind of, um, interesting. The call on Darroll Powe for roughing? The call on Hagelin for removing David Clarkson’s hat? The holding-the-stick call on D’Agostini after that thunderous, clean hit by Dan Girardi? The refs also let a few too-many-men incidents slide, at least two on the Rangers and one on the Devils. Several non-calls.
5) By the way, nice job by Chris Kreider jumping into the first pileup of the game. You have to like the way the kid’s been engaged. He sure had some more struggles, though. He’s learning. Slowly. I think next season he gets a full camp, makes the team, and gets a chance to learn on the fly here. And that he will be a very good player very soon, and for a long time.
6) The Taylor Pyatt goal got him the Broadway Hat, and good for him. But it was another night that made you wonder if the real Brad Richards – the one from last year, or at least the one not from this year, is coming around. And makes you wonder how much better this team is if the real Brad Richards is on it. Or is this a product of the opponents? I normally don’t get nuts about stats, but the guy has made a lot of plays the past three games, after that woeful game in Philly that had him so down in the dumps.
7) And if they have the real Richards, and if they have the recent-weeks Lundqvist, and if they can create just enough offense, who knows if they might shock somebody in the playoffs? Might be nice to be a big underdog with no pressure/expectations.
8) Back to the officiating. I like that they’re not calling it too tightly at this stage of the season, but it’s got to be hell for the players never knowing when one will be called, and then they make up a couple (see above).
9) Dan Girardi=Monster.
10) Also another good game for Ryane Clowe, who some of us were burying after the Philly game (along with many others). Still no idea if they re-sign him, but could be a massive cog in a playoff series.
11) Does anybody, including Skid Crosby, whine more than David Clarkson?
12) For an afternoon crowd, loaded with kids, and between Knicks playoff games, the Garden was pretty good Sunday. It wasn’t sustained by any stretch, but it was better than most nights. Of course, it helped that they were up 1-0 by the time John Amirante left the ice.
13) See the post below this one for more photos.
14) Critique it any way you want, but it’s 8-2-1 in the last 11.
15) So, not sure where I heard this, but some hockey scholar once said, “Fire this CLOWN, his players hate him and won’t play for his BS.”
My Three Rangers Stars:
1. Ryan Callahan.
2. Derek Stepan.
3. Dan Girardi.
(the real) Kenny Albert’s Three Rangers Stars:
1. Ryan Callahan.
2. Henrik Lundqvist.
3. Derek Stepan.
RangerJHW’s Three Rangers Stars:
1. The King….nothing more to say.
2. Capt Cally…nothing more to say.
3. Mr. Stepan…nothing more to say
HM-Brad Richards-do I dare to think I see the light? We are all pulling for you! In general-a solid team victory..knocking out the Devs…keep on truckin’ boys!
Photos by Getty Images.