NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 09: The New York Rangers celebrate their 5-2 win over the New Jersey Devils at Madison Square Garden on April 9, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Jonathan Klein/Getty Images)
After a disaster of a night on Friday, it seemed highly unlikely that things would go the way the New York Rangers needed them to in order for them to make the playoffs today. But the team, once again displaying their resiliency, defeated the New Jersey Devils earlier this afternoon in a spirited contest, and then received help from the Tampa Bay Lightning this evening, who defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 6-2. It once again came down to the final day of the regular season, but thankfully things went differently this year than they did the last, and the magical season lives on.
The Rangers will finish the season in eighth place in the Eastern Conference standings with a record of 44-33-5 and 93 points (only two better than the ninth place Hurricanes). I've been watching this team play hockey for about sixteen years now, and I must say, this season has made me the proudest to call myself a New York Rangers fan, regardless of how tonight ended up. They made up for their lack of skill through hard work and heart, and they carried that on through from game one to game 82. They established an identity and became one of the more respected clubs in the National Hockey League because of that. For this, they deserved to be in the playoffs after missing out last year, and now that they are in, who knows what could happen.
Since the Blueshirts finished in eighth, their opponent in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals will be the first place Washington Capitals - a rematch from two years ago. The Rangers went 3-1-0 against the Caps during the regular season, and over the course of those four games they outscored Washington by a whopping 18-6. It's going to take an upset to out Alex Ovechkin and the Caps in round one, but based on those numbers, I have full faith that the Rangers can pull it off.
But for now, we shall celebrate, because it took a near miracle for the Rangers to make the playoffs today and they did.
We're going to the postseason, baby!