We’re going to do a last-minute, long-overdue, last-week-of-the-regular-season Live Chat today at noon. Be there.
In case you missed it, the Rangers got no help from the mail-it-in Islanders and Sabres last night, who were destroyed by Columbus and Philadelphia, respectively (not respectfully).
The Rangers, who blew a chance to clinch Saturday, still will tie down a playoff berth with the next point they get OR with any point New Jersey fails to get. The Devils host Calgary tonight, and if they fail to win the game, the Rangers clinch. The Rangers can also clinch with a point vs. Carolina tomorrow. Then Buffalo comes in Thursday, and the Rangers close the season in Montreal Saturday.
As for the more important race — since a playoff berth is virtually inevitable — third-place Philly and fourth-place Columbus both picked up a pair of points on the Rangers (and Devils) Sunday, and each burned one of their two games in hand.
So as of this morning, the Rangers have 91 points and three games left, plus the tiebreaker on both Columbus and Philly. The Flyers have 89 points and the Jackets 87, each with a game in hand. The tiebreaker (regulation/OT wins), if the Rangers can hang onto it, means both teams need to beat out, not tie, the Rangers. So the Rangers’ lead on Philly is, in effect, three points, and five on Columbus.
If the Rangers win two more games, they avoid the wild card and a first-round meeting with Pittsburgh or Boston, and instead clinch the 2-3 seed series. If they win all three, they are assured of finishing second and having home-ice in the first round.
I maintain that the home-ice advantage isn’t really an advantage, especially in the first round, and that the Rangers might indeed be better off starting on the road given their sub-actual .500 record at MSG.
Did you happen to see the cheap-shot, leaping head-shot that got Zac Rinaldo a match penalty against Buffalo Sunday night? He will no doubt have a hearing today and likely face a suspension. And he was not deterred by Buffalo having the biggest goon in hockey in the lineup, was he? Of course not.
Has anybody heard when Chris Neil’s hearing is? Oh, sorry, I forgot, Chris Neil doesn’t have hearings. And he doesn’t get penalties.
Photo by Getty Images.