Musings Day: The magic number is getting smaller; Potential first round matchups; The Vezina

March 29, 2012, by

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these musings, so let’s see if I still have what it takes.

The Magic Number

The magic number for the Rangers to clinch the Eastern Conference is now at seven. The way the number is calculated is based on total points the second place team can get. If Pittsburgh wins out, they can get to 112 points. The Rangers currently have 105 points and have the tiebreaker, thus the magic number is seven. If the Penguins lose to the Islanders tonight, the magic number goes to five, as the Penguins will have missed out on two points, making their max points attainable 110.

Even if the Penguins win out, the Rangers would need to go 3-1-1 or better to clinch the Eastern Conference. Clearly, the Rangers control their own destiny.

First Round Matchups

Should the Rangers remain as the top seed, they will likely get one of Ottawa, Buffalo, or Washington in the first round. All three teams are scary, but Buffalo is playing like a team possessed. They are red hot, and really want that playoff spot. Any team coming into the playoffs on a run like this is scary, especially when they have Ryan Miller in net. The Caps are getting Nicklas Backstrom back, so that makes them equally scary. There’s no “easy” matchup in the playoffs this year.

President’s Trophy

The President’s Trophy is still very much up for grabs, and the Rangers currently have the tiebreaker over the Blues for first in the NHL. This is another scenario where the Rangers control their own destiny. If they win out, then St. Louis can’t catch them. The magic number here is at ten with five games remaining, so there’s no real point in keeping track of it. If St. Louis decides to allow a goal to the opposition, then we will start keeping track.

Vezina Trophy – Still Hank’s to lose?

The Vezina voting this year will be very interesting. Brian Elliott has the best numbers in the NHL by far with a 1.48 GAA, .943 SV%, and 9 shutouts. However, he is in a true tandem with Jaroslav Halak. It’s incredibly rare that the Vezina be awarded to a goalie that will appear in only half the regular season games.  But he has three shutouts in a row.

Something also needs to be said about Ken Hitchcock though. Elliott was playing well before he got there, but Hitchcock is famous for his defensively oriented coaching schemes and traps. Will Hitchcock’s history play a role? Will Halak’s great numbers take away some votes?

Is this still Henrik Lundqvist’s trophy to lose?

Question Time

  • Should the Rangers start Lundqvist in every game down the stretch? John Tortorella said he needs to get Hank in a rhythm. If he plays in all five remaining games, he will only get to 63 games started, far less than the 70+ he’s been getting over the past few years. What’s more important, rest or rhythm?
  • Who should make up that bottom pairing on defense in the playoffs?
  • What would you consider to be a successful playoff run? Conference Finals or bust?
  • Who would you rather see in the second round, Pittsburgh or Philadelphia?
Categories : Musings


  1. Leatherneckinlv says:

    third pairing should be Stralman and Del Zotto or Eminger and Del Zotto…2nd pair should be Bickel and Staal…Play Lundqvuist in all but one…Rangers vs Buffalo will be a good start to the playoffs and let us play the Flyers in the 2nd round

  2. VinceR says:

    1) I have no problem starting Lundqvist in the final games. After he came back from the flu issues in early March, you could tell he wasn’t himself (which admittedly is a much higher standard compared to anyone else). Lately he’s been slowly working back into Henke form and seems to be responding well to the consistent work load. He’ll have some days of rest before the playoffs begin

    2)For me, it’s still almost too early to tell. Unfortunately I think it’s going to come down to who screws up least in the home stretch, although I have a feeling it will be Bickel and Stralman.

    3)For someone who is day-dreaming to win the cup every year even when we aren’t qualifying for the playoffs, this is tough to be objective. But I’d say Conference Finals is a good measure, first round win is a must, losing a close dog fight in the second round is okay as long as the physical and mental effort is there. It’s going to be a tough field to get through.

    4)Philly hands down. I know it’s two different seasons and the playoff Flyers will be supposedly different, but I still think we have a pretty good handle on them. Pittsburgh is just so deep and talented and are a team in which no lead is ever safe. Also, Malkin scary (but I suppose he is another one you shouldn’t sh*t your pants on).

    • Joe says:

      are you guys serious??? bring on who ever!! in order to win the cup we have to be the best. Does anyone here remember 1994?? Through the devils and beating the canucks?? That’s the best! let’s beat the best!

      • VinceR says:

        And in round two we played the Caps who knocked off the #2 Pens in the first round (the Devils were in third) 🙂

        I do see your point though, it would be satisfying. I would also consider it very satisfying to knock the Flyers out of the playoffs too though (or the Devils).

  3. Jack says:

    Give Biron the next one and the Hank the remainder. The last few games are quality opponents and great warm up games for the playoffs for Hank.

    The second pairing should be Staal and Del Zotto, the third pairing Bickel and Erixon/Stralman. Question is whether or not you’d rather get the upsided Erixon some playoff experience like McDonagh got last season, or go with the older, more experience player in Stralman. I honestly don’t see much more offense to Stralman so I’m going with Bickel/Erixon bottom pairing that sees limited ice time but every minute is big.

    This is the start of a 4-5 year reign for NY, so conference finals this year would be a great success. However, you can’t help but want the cup after such a dominant regular season, so anything less will be a little disappointing.

    I would rather see the Flyers. There is a little reason to worry because we have beaten them so badly in the season and they are a skilled team with a lot of motivation for vengeance. However, Pittsburgh is scary right now and I don’t see us out grinding their skill for a whole series. Philly by now must feel like they literally can’t beat us, and that edge would give us the series.

  4. Sioux-per-man says:

    Hank should play them all, just to make sure Pittsburgh CAN’T catch us.

    3rd pair DZ with Stralman, both have a scoring punch to them.

    Succesful playoff run = Stanley Cup. Everything else is kissing your sister.

    2nd round Flyers all the way. Pittsburgh will be our biggest foe in the playoffs – I don’t want to see them AT ALL.

    • Joe says:

      I disagree, going through Pitt would make it more satisfying. If you are going to win, don’t you want to do it through the best. WE can beat pitt. I’m sure! Forget next year, let’s do it now!!!

  5. Jeff P says:

    If second/third pair implies disparity in playing time, it pretty clear that the break down should be as follows:
    1. Girardi/McDonagh 25-26 m/g
    3. MdZ 22-24 m/g
    4. Staal 18-20 m/g
    5. Bickel 10-12 m/g
    6. Erixon/Stralman 6-10 m/g

    As to who plays with whom on which line among the bottom 4 – don’t matter so much.

  6. Walt says:

    Lets face it, they all are tough foes in the first round. Given a choice, the Caps, because their goaltending is suspect.

    Start Hank for the rest of the games, or until we lock up the title, we want home ice period!!!

    The second round, Philly, because they will be hard pressed after a series with the Pens, and by then their goalie will have a melt down. Has a history of that in the play-offs, and or big games.

    Dan & McD
    MDZ & Stahl
    Stu & Strahlman

    The confrence title at minimum, cup should always be the objective.

    Cally gets the Selke, Hank the Vezina!!

    Frankenstein Malkin & Cindy have injuries, high ankle sprain, that will cut their play-off playing time to nothing. We can dream, can’t we????? I hate both of those dudes.

  7. Chris F says:

    1. I think playing Biron tomorrow night versus Montreal wouldn’t be a bad idea, if for no other reason than to let the guy know that he is still relied upon for key results (give him one last fairly intense match-up before the Playoffs…God forbid, just in case.) After that, without a doubt, Hank needs to start against the Bruins, Flyers, Penguins and Caps. God, that’s going to be a touch finishing stretch.

    2. Bickel/Stralman

    3. Conf. Finals is a must for this team psychologically. After the season they’ve put together, they need to see positive results of such sacrificial style of play. If the Rangers are bounced in the first or even second round, I’m not so sure that the players will buy into Torts’ system with such enthusiasm next year. Obviously, the Cup is the ideal goal, though. Bring it home, boys!

    4. Flyers, definitely. The Flyers, to me, are one of the few teams that I think could beat Pittsburgh in a playoff series. Philadelphia can match the Penguins in skill and offense, and maybe come away with a series victory. Then they have to face NY’s stingy defense, world-class goaltending and bruising forechecking. They’ve shown this year, they simply aren’t up to task. I like a Rangers/Flyers second round match-up.

  8. dave says:

    1.Ride the hank!!
    2.Bickel and strl
    3.conf finals and next year cup
    4.philly but more likel the devils who will beat the panthers

  9. wwpd says:

    jonathan quick quietly putting together a vezina caliber season of his own. i would always choose hank but truly hard to say one is definitive selection over the other.

    expect to hear some accusations of east coast bias on this one!

  10. mhurley says:

    Why wouldn’t they give the Vezina to Halak/Elliott same as they gave it to Giacomin and Villemure?

    • Justin says:

      Because the Jennings trophy came to be in 1980 and awarded the goaltending tandem (min 25 games), which allows the least amount of goals during the regular season.

      Now only one goaltender can win the Vezina.