The Rangers (70 points) enter tonight’s game against the Islanders six points behind Columbus (76) for the final Wild Card spot.
The Rangers have three games in hand on Columbus, but Carolina (74) is between the Rangers and Blue Jackets, two points behind Columbus with three games in hand.
The Islanders, currently in the first Wild Card spot, have 76 points with the same number of games played as the Rangers.
The Rangers playoff odds are:
After sending down and calling back up Julien Gauthier and Brett Howden, so they are eligible to play in the AHL playoffs, the Rangers can call up two more players from Hartford.
The Wolf Pack rank second in their division with 71 points.
The Rangers will be without Igor Shesterkin for at least a couple of weeks after he suffered a rib injury during Sunday’s car accident.
Pavel Buchnevich is day-to-day and did not suffer a major injury from the accident.
With the trade of Brady Skjei, Jeff Gorton said that his spot on defense will likely be filled by Brendan Smith in the short-term.
Adam Rotter: Next up is continuing on with this unexpected playoff push. It was going to be tough as it was, but now tougher without Igor Shesterkin for key games and a schedule featuring mostly playoff teams through the end of the year. Alex Georgiev has been solid when called upon and unless he has shutouts tonight and in Montreal, we should see Henrik Lundqvist on Friday against the Flyers. It’s a different role, a different situation and a different point in his career, but all Henrik Lundqvist has done for most of his career is carry the Rangers during these kind of playoff pushes. The Rangers will ride the hot goalie if they keep winning and that could be Henrik Lundqvist, if he is strong in net. It’s a little surprising the Rangers didn’t call up Libor Hajek after the Skjei trade, but they either want him playing in Hartford and/or are hoping Brendan Smith is solid enough that he can draw interest this summer with only one-year left on his deal. Jacob Trouba will either partner with Smith or Marc Staal, to replace Skjei, as Ryan Lindgren and Adam Fox will almost certainly stay together. Up front nothing much changed for the Rangers with the passing of the deadline. It was 50/50 for a while whether that would be the case, but Chris Kreider is here and the Rangers will continue to rely on him, Mika Zibanejad and Artemi Panarin to carry the offense. Hopefully we will see Kaapo Kakko continue to progress and start putting up points, more from Julien Gauthier and maybe, though he will be an AHL playoff push of his own, Vitali Kravtsov for a game or two if the Rangers playoff push falls short. Unlike last year when they were already out of it and the team swooned after the deadline, this group can see the playoffs. They may or may not make it, but it’s the first time in a few years that the Rangers will be playing meaningful games in late February and March.