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Right now, the Rangers are in seventh place in a very tight Eastern Conference race. With Buffalo, Carolina, Toronto, Atlanta, and New Jersey making strong pushes, these next 14 games are crucial to the Blue Shirts if they want to make the playoffs. For some reason, the Rangers like to play better with less than 20 games remaining in the season.
Right now, for seeds seven to twelve, I feel that the two teams who will not make it out of this bunch will be the Leafs and the Thrashers, leaving the Rangers, Sabres, Devils, and Hurricanes battling for the last two seeds. Below are the remaining schedules of each team with my predictions. I will post predictions for both Toronto and Atlanta. Please fell free to comment.
1. @ Ducks: Anaheim is in a close race in the West, so they will be playing their hearts out. Here, we have a team who is dominant at home (20-11-2) against a team who is comfortable playing on the road (20-13-1). Both teams have been slumping in their last ten, so I expect a close game. I can see this game going into overtime, but because of some weird reason, we would probably lose this one. (0-0-1)
2. @ Sharks: To beat the Sharks, we need to play the way we did against the Flyers. Because we are the most consistent inconsistent team in the league, we will lose. (0-1-1)
3. vs. Islanders: Easy win for the Blue Shirts. (1-1-1)
4. vs. Canadiens: Tough game, but the momentum from the previous games might be in our favor. Expect a close game where we might get away with a win. (2-1-1)
5. @ Penguins: We will be in Pittsburgh, automatic loss. The ref who makes the majority of the calls will probably be the one Crosby sodomized prior to the puck drop. (2-2-1)
6. vs. Panthers: Panthers are in a rebuilding stage, easy capitalization. (3-2-1)
7. vs. Senators: A team who might play spoiler, yet we have their number this year. Should be a close one, but the Rangers will win this one (4-2-1).
8. @ Bruins: Division leader so we might have a shot at winning this one. The Bruins are a .500 team at home and because they know that they have a good commanding lead in their division they might take it easy to rest for the playoffs. Since we are a good road team, we might win. I'm gonna call this one our lucky win (5-2-1).
9. @ Sabres: Buffalo is right behind us, so this game will be a competitive duel. This team is thinking playoffs. The last time we were here, Derek Stepan scored three goals. That might not happen. I do see this game going into overtime, however, the Sabres will be the victors. (5-2-2)
10. @ Islanders: The Rangers will shake it off and pounce on the Islanders, in front of a sell out crowd of Rangers fans. (6-2-2)
11. @ Flyers: I want to say that the 7-0 win can build up our confidence levels against the potential first seed, but in this case, that might not happen, yet at around this time the Flyers are probably gonna take it easy and rest their players for the playoffs. Tough one, but realistically we might not win. (6-3-2)
12. vs. Bruins: To prove that they are playoff worthy, the Rangers must take a stand for these final three games, especially at home. If they can beat this team, they are in the clearing. Another lucky guess, we beat the Bruins. At this point, teams like Boston might not care anymore until the playoffs start. (7-3-2)
13. vs. Thrashers: Should be an easy win, but Atlanta does have our number this year and they will likely play spoilers just to piss us off. I see a close one with the Rangers winning. (8-3-2)
14. vs. Devils: The BIGGEST GAME OF THE SEASON. REDEMPTION MUST BE MADE HERE. The Devils want in, and the Rangers would LOVE to see this team out of it. The Devils too would love to see the Garden Faithful suffer as well. I see this game going into overtime, and the outcome... I have no clue to be honest with you. The Rangers will win if they play their hearts out, and the Devils will win if they keep playing the way they have been since the beginning of their comeback. The Rangers will win this game in the shootout with Zuccarello and Christensen scoring for the Blue Shirts and Lundqvist stopping Kovy on the final shot. (9-3-2)
Final Record: 44-32-6, 94 PTS
Is it enough???
Buffalo: 17 games remaining
Loss to Pittsburgh, overtime loss to Boston, win against Toronto, 3-1-0 homestand against Ottawa, Carolina, Atlanta, and Nashville (loss), defeat Montreal and Florida, loss to New Jersey, defeat Toronto and the Rangers to end March, lose three of five in April, beating Washington and Columbus and losing to Carolina in OT, and Tampa Bay and Philly in regulation. 10-5-2
Record: 42-30-10, 94 PTS
Carolina: 16 games remaining
The Hurricanes will go 10-6-0 to end the season. Look at their schedule to see who they are playing and understand this sequence (W= win, L= loss, O= overtime loss, for rest of article) Sorry about my indolence.
W O W L W W W L W L W W W L W O
Record: 41-30-11, 93 PTS
New Jersey: 17 games remaining
The Devils are on one hell of a role. I can see them making a strong push. The Devils will go 10-4-3 to end the season. Sometimes, a comeback may be to good to be true.
W W W W W L W L L W O O W L W O W
Record: 40-35-7, 87 points
*- The Devils should have just thrown this season to get the top pick in the draft, since they have to surrender one 1st round in the next four seasons due to Kovalchuk deal, remember? I thought that this was their original intention when they were losing horribly in the beginning of the season.
Atlanta: 16 games left.
A team who can force overtime almost all the time. However, they will go 4-9-3 to close out the season, because they do not have the fan base that can support them.
L L L O W L W L O L L L W L O W
Record: 31-37-14, 76 PTS
Toronto: 16 games left.
Surprisingly, they are playing better after the trade deadline. However, they might have some difficulty if they want to pull off a great comeback. The Leafs will go 7-7-2 at the rate they are playing now to end season.
Record: 36-35-11, 83 PTS
Final Standings (7-12)
7. Rangers 44-32-6, 94 PTS
8. Buffalo 42-30-10, 94 PTS
9. Carolina 41-30-11, 93 PTS
10. New Jersey 40-35-7, 87 PTS
11. Toronto 36-35-11, 83 PTS
12. Atlanta 31-37-14, 76 PTS