Would the Rangers have made the playoffs?

They would have needed some help

Before the NHL season was put on hold, the Rangers were unexpectedly fighting for a playoff spot. A hot January and February put the Rangers fourth in the wild card hunt with 79 points, just two points back of WC2 Columbus. The Blueshirts would also have to leapfrog the Islanders (80 points, two games in hand).

Making up points and spots in the standings is difficult in the NHL. The loser point has created an illusion of playoff competition for teams that really aren’t competing, and it makes harder for these teams, even if they do get hot, to make up ground.

For a while, we were using 98 points as the barometer, based on last year’s playoffs. This year is a little bit less, closer to 95 points based on PPG of Carolina Hurricanes (81 points in 68 games, 97 point pace) and Blue Jackets (81 points in 70 games, 95 points). The Rangers would have just needed to tie for the WC2, as they had the RW tiebreaker over all of these teams.

For the Blueshirts to get to 95 points, they needed 16 points in 12 games, or 1.3 points per game. Certainly very doable. Eight wins gets it done, so 8-4-0 was the target. For every win they didn’t get, they needed two OT/SO losses, so 7-3-2 and 6-2-4 also would have gotten the job done here.

The schedule wasn’t doing them favors though. Of the 12 games remaining, only four (@ARI, @BUF, @FLA, vs CHI) were against non-playoff teams. As we saw against the Devils, these games are no guarantees. Assuming four wins would have been dangerous.

However of those eight games against playoff teams, only three were against teams in the top-two in their division (@WSH, @TBL, vs PHI). Like it was dangerous to assume four wins against the non-playoff teams, it’s dangerous to assume three losses here. Or at least assume three regulation losses. There’s a balance.

Before we get into the wins and losses, let’s remember that the Rangers were struggling at the time the season was postponed. They were 2-3-1 to start March and more importantly were without Chris Kreider due to a fractured foot. Kreider was skating, but unless they used the Time Stone on him, the bone was not healed. That’s just not humanly possible. Kreider’s absence (and Pavel Buchnevich’s before) was a blow to the top-six and the scoring balance of an already top-heavy team.

This question is posed as a point-in-time discussion – if the season had not been suspended, would the Rangers have made the playoffs? So let’s get into the game by game breakdown. These are simply my predictions based off a few factors: Team strength, how well they were playing, how well they’ve played against the Rangers, and their style of play.

– @ ARI – W: Let’s assume the Rangers have enough offensive firepower to overcome the Yotes, who don’t score much. This is a toss up though, the Rangers struggle against these kinds of teams.

– vs CGY – L: The Rangers didn’t play as well at home as they did on the road, and Calgary was riding a good streak.

– vs PIT – W: The Penguins were in free fall, and the Rangers knew they needed a win.

– @ PIT – OTL: It’s greedy to assume the Rangers would have swept this.

– @ BUF – W: Buffalo was also in free fall.

– vs CBJ – W: The biggest game of the year remaining. Let’s assume Kreider would have been back for this one. That positive energy fuels them to a win.

– @ WSH – L: A let down game after a huge win is normal, and relatively predictable.

– @ TBL – L: The Bolts were struggling, but they were a 100 point team this season. Those points come from somewhere.

– @ FLA – W: A big win to right the ship.

– vs PHI – L: I really hated having to say this, but nothing about those two losses said the Rangers were ever really in those games.

– @ PIT –  L: This game broke the season for the Rangers. The Penguins are just a better team. Their struggles in March weren’t going to last through April. They know this is their last hurrah and played spoiler for the Rangers.

– vs CHI – W: Henrik Lundqvist got the start in this one, and the 45 save shutout.

Based off my armchair predictions, the Rangers would have finished 6-5-1, adding 13 points to their 79 and a total of 92 points. That wouldn’t have been enough for the Blueshirts to make the playoffs, but what a ride it was going to be. Things would have been thrown, noise complaints against filed, and big goals celebrated. It would have been a huge step forward for a team that needed to show progress.

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  • As much as I hate saying this, I suspect we would have fallen short this season, and not make the PO’s. Watch next year folks, we will be a young force for many teams to deal with, and will defiantly make the PO’s!!!!!!

    • “One for ya”, Walt.
      Hope you and your family are doing well, buddy!
      Hopefully hockey gets going by the end of the month (without fans).

      • Joe

        All is well at our home, and the entire family is doing just fine, thanks. I suspect this all will be coming to a halt, and we can get back to some semblance of normal soon. Take care of yourself, and stay well!!!!

  • I think they would’ve just squeezed in. Igor would’ve carried this team. But not past the first round.

  • I am just not sure, but I can say with confidence that this club was fun to watch. The coaches had them playing team hockey at a nice level for the fans.

    I wonder.

    I think in the end the defense may not have been able to play at a level that gets the club into the POs.

    stay well all.

  • Thinking that they would have obtained about 94 points, but feared that the hated Islanders would have righted their ship and kept us just out of the playoffs.
    Hoping to see the NHL resume with 24 teams making the playoffs with a first round being a best of 5 scenario. Any hot goalie can take 3 out of 5. Would Shesty been up to the task?

  • Good Morning Fellow Inmates!
    Most importantly I hope everyone and their families are safe and well.
    The Ranger’s surprised me this season. Although I was sure they’d be fun to watch, I didn’t think they’d have the success they enjoyed.
    As to the question, I think they would have fallen just short.

    • Good morning Jerry, glad to see your post, that means all is well at your end. Take care my friend!!!

  • I think they would have made it, knocking the fishsticks out would have been so cool.

    stay safe everyone

  • It is possible that the other contenders would have stumbled down the stretch so I am not convinced that your prediction would have held true !

  • Krieder was about to return. Igor would have dominated and Panarin and Zab weren’t slowing down. The young defense was outstanding and the veterans stepped up ! I’ll be the optimist and say that they would have not only have made the playoffs, but maybe went past the first round because they had momentum. They proved that they could not only play with the top teams in the league, but could defeat them. Next year with the young guys maturing, and some adjustments, they could become a powerhouse passing by the declining Islanders. God bless all, and stay safe!

    • I think it would have ended by a photo finish. If the Rangers would have been able to hang than every game would have mattered. That idea scared to face Philly on April 1st because you know they would be ready for the season sweep. CBJ would have gotten healthier with guy’s like Jones coming back. Florida Panthers and Carolina weren’t going to slow down it seemed?

  • Based on Larry Brooks’ articles on Smith and Staal, absolutely!!

    I think that Larry needs to get tested ASAP.

  • Is there any reason why this blog feels that it’s appropriate to ignore the racist cruelty that K’Andre Miller endured last week at his introductory online media event?

    It’s extremely weak that no support has been offered to Miller by any of this blog’s writing staff or commenters since this atrocious racist attack occurred.

    • We discussed this on Twitter when it happened. There isn’t much we can add to the discussion other than note that it happened, it was disgusting, it is something that has no place in life or hockey, and the FBI is involved.

      Please be aware that I work in healthcare and my priorities right now are not necessarily with updating this blog on a regular basis, and I am not about to pass that responsibility onto the others here.

  • I think its awful that the R’s will miss the playoffs this season by 1 pt. I don’t know why most of the writers near the break wrote that we would play the ‘Canes? However, with so much talent the R’s should have done way better. The Rangers should finally get rid of Henrik L. who is an albatross for them and was never really that good w/o help in front of him. The younger goalies are better anchors for the team and their future.

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