With the Panthers loss to Ottawa and the Sabres loss to Montreal in a shootout, the Rangers have clinched a playoff spot for the second straight season.
The Rangers are currently third in the Metro with 96 points. The Devils are currently four points ahead of the Rangers, but the Rangers have one game in hand and the two teams play on Thursday.
Adam Rotter: If the Rangers beat Columbus tomorrow they will be in a position to tie the Devils for second place on Thursday. The Devils have one more regulation win, the first tiebreaker, but are five ahead in the second tiebreaker of regulation + OT wins.
Ultimately this is what was expected of the Rangers after last season’s trip to the Eastern Conference Finals. It was not an easy road to get here, but the Rangers found their game in December, they started finding ways to win, picked up reinforcements and look to, at least, get back to the Conference Finals.
We just saw the Rangers match up with the Hurricanes twice last week and we’ll see how they match up against New Jersey in a game that could go a long way in determining whether a potential Game 7 would be at MSG or in New Jersey. It will not be easy, just as it was not easy last year, for the Rangers to even get back to the Conference Finals and a potential match up with Boston. They will need Igor Shesterkin to be at his best, as he has been lately, the top-six and PP to get settled, a healthy Ryan Lindgren, the Kid Line going like they did on Saturday and, like any team, some breaks or bounces along the way. This team is better on paper, and when they get going, than last year’s team, but that doesn’t mean they will get to be two wins away from the Stanley Cup Final again.