The Rangers are a playoff team

The Rangers are a playoff team

Despite their shooting slump, the Rangers are a playoff team. There are cries that this “is not a playoff team” and that “there is no offense” and “they can’t score.” The hyperbolic doom and gloom surrounding the Rangers occurs every season, just this season it’s happened earlier than usual. But the Rangers are a playoff team. They were when the season started. They are still one now.

Emotions run wild early in the season, especially as the Rangers look to cement themselves as true contenders after a great season last year. They have expectations this season, unlike last season, and it is easy to overreact. We are, after all, human. But a deep breath and some critical thinking is all it takes to realize the Rangers are a playoff team, and nothing has changed due to a .500 start.

The standings in October don’t matter – The Rangers are a playoff team

The Rangers are currently 6th in the Metropolitan Division, ahead of the Islanders and Blue Jackets. They are virtually tied with the Caps and Devils (game in hand) at 8 points. They trail the first place Philadelphia Flyers by two points.

There are a bunch of pretenders ahead of the Rangers right now. Starting with those Flyers, who will not finish ahead of the Rangers this season. The Caps are going to see their time atop the Metro and in the playoffs come to an end soon too, be it this year or next. The Rangers will finish ahead of both teams.

The Devils have been solid to start the season, but haven’t faced a difficult schedule yet. Their goaltending will be their downfall. In August, I predicted they’d finish 5th in the division with 90-ish points. Of any team that can surprise, it would be the Devils, and I wouldn’t be shocked if they finish ahead of the Caps. But ahead of the Rangers? Nope. They are on the rise for sure, but not yet.

The difference between this year and last is the top four in the Metro were more or less decided by December last season. That probably won’ happen again, but we will definitely see a much clearer picture around Thanksgiving. By then, expect the top teams in the division, which includes the Rangers, to begin to set themselves apart.

No one in Tampa is worried about their 4-4-0 start. They will leapfrog Detroit, Ottawa, and Buffalo by the end of the calendar year. Minnesota’s 3-3-1 start isn’t causing panic, since the Chicago Blackhawks and Winnipeg Jets are two of the teams ahead of them right now.

Last year, Colorado started 4-5-1 and won the Cup. They lost to Arizona twice last year. Toronto started sub-.500 and made the playoffs (what they do in the playoffs is a whole other issue). There are many reasons to know and and believe that the Rangers are a playoff team.

The only thing that can keep the Rangers out of the playoffs is themselves. They have certainly played down to their opponents lately after dominating both Tampa and Minnesota to start the season. If not for an epic gaffe by Igor Shesterkin, they likely beat Colorado in one of the more entertaining games of the year as well. With Dallas and Arizona next up, the Rangers have a chance to right the ship against an overachiever (Dallas) and a Bedard contender (Arizona).

As an aside, beating Dallas helps improve that 1st round pick for Nils Lundkvist as well.

Of the next 16 games on the schedule, the Rangers face just 2 solid playoff teams in Boston and Edmonton. They have four bubble teams (Devils, Nashville, Kings, Ducks), and a whopping 10 games against bottom feeders. Assuming the Rangers stop playing down to their opponents, this is where they should be making their run. If the Rangers are a playoff team, this is also where the need to make their run.