If you have been here long, you know that I am one of the more optimistic Rangers fans. I always try to find the silver lining, and look at the positives. I just can’t do it anymore for this season, not after last night’s embarrassing display of nonchalance and indifference. This team just does not have what it takes to make the playoffs. Sure, they sit in 9th place in the conference, just three points back of the Bruins, but the Bruins have two games in hand on the Rangers. The loss of Marc Savard will hurt them, but their defense and goaltending should help weather that loss. At this point, I’m torn between rooting for the Rangers to win, or hoping they get a lottery pick.
The Rangers have fifteen remaining games, of which seven are against playoff teams, five are against non-playoff teams, and three are against teams in the hunt. As per SportsClubStats (s/t to Jordan for that one), in order to be guaranteed a spot in the playoffs, they will need to finish 10-2-3. To at least have a 70% shot at making the playoffs, they will need to finish 10-4-1. The moral of the story here is that the Rangers need to win 10 games to even be in the playoff hunt come April. It’s doable, but unlikely, especially considering what we’ve seen from the Rangers the past few games.
When looking at the draft position, each of the #10 (Atlanta), #11 (Tampa Bay), #12 (Florida), and #13 (Carolina) seeds have games in hand on the Rangers. Of those teams, Atlanta, TB, and Florida can leap frog ahead of the Rangers if they win these games in hand. They also play these three teams once a piece before the season ends. Those three games will have a huge bearing on where the Rangers sit come draft season, or whether the Rangers make the playoffs. Looking at the Western Conference, the only team below the Rangers is Columbus (Edmonton doesn’t count). They sit four points back of the Rangers, with no games in hand. It’s possible that they leap frog the Rangers too, especially if our beloved Blueshirts fail to show up for the remaining fifteen games.
In the end, I can’t root against the Rangers, it’s not in my blood. So I will be cheering for them, and hoping they make the playoffs. But the possibility of someone like Tyler Seguin, or Cam Fowler, or Vladimir Tarasenko is very tempting (Side note: Columbus plays Atlanta tonight, and for those hoping for a lottery pick, pray for an OT game). Any one of those players would greatly improve the Rangers and fill a gigantic hole on the team. Plus, there’s a very good chance they are NHL ready and could make a solid impact next season. But still, I cannot root against the Rangers, even if I think their playoff hopes have been crushed.