The playoffs are right around the corner, and the Rangers are in the thick of things, competing for not just a playoff spot, but competing to avoid the two wild card spots and dates with either the Penguins or Bruins. Over the past few seasons, 92 points has been the “guaranteed” position. Hit 92 points, and you get to the playoffs. Fall below, and you need help. That’s where the Rangers need to get to.
With 78 points and 12 games remaining, the Rangers would need 14 of the possible 24 points to hit that mark. Considering the schedule, with just four games against playoff teams remaining, they should be able to hit that mark. After all, that requires a measly 5-3-4 record. Certainly doable considering their toughest opponents will be Montreal, Columbus, and Philly: Three teams that I believe are no better –if not worse– than the Rangers.
The fact that 92 points is pretty much guaranteeing the Rangers a playoff spot –(90%-92%) based on the info available at SportsClubStats– means that the Rangers are pretty much jockeying for positioning at the moment. They don’t want to face the Bruins –winners of ten in a row– or the Penguins in the first round. That means 95 points is probably the goal here.
To get to 95 points, the Rangers would need to finish up 8-3-1 or 7-2-3, which again is very doable based on the schedule. They can certainly help themselves a lot with wins over Columbus tonight and Philly on Wednesday, the only two matchups against Metro playoff teams left. They don’t need to surpass Philly for second place, as the only thing that changes would be home-ice advantage (2 plays 3 in the first round).
There has been a lot of panic in the fan base, especially after this recent string of sub-par play from the Rangers. People see Washington one point back and panic, but the Rangers have a game in hand and the first tiebreaker. The Caps would need to pass the Rangers in points. Doable, but nothing to cause a panic at the moment. A win tonight moves the Rangers ahead of Toronto as well (80 points, but the Rangers have the ROW tiebreaker).
The Rangers simply need to get to 92 points to be assured a playoff spot. Getting to 95 points and avoiding the Pens/Bruins would be nice, but the Rangers are fully capable of competing with the Pens in a seven game series. There’s no need to panic, but getting points and avoiding those teams would be nice.