Bantering Points: Rangers Clinch The Playoffs Edition
Some morning notes before tonight's huge tilt against the Carolina Hurricanes.
- There really are few things better than seeing that little letter of the alphabet tagged onto your hockey team's name late in the season. You know, the letter that signifies your team has locked up a playoff spot. The Rangers did that last night, without even having to play.
- If you would have asked 99% of the fanbase if it was possible the Rangers would be fighting for home ice in the first round of the playoffs, they would have laughed at you. I really do want to go back through the comments of everyone yelling at me (and all the other defenders) when I maintained that the slow start was just that, a slow start, and that this team was never going anywhere. I won't do that however, because we're all family. You don't betray family. You just poke fun at them.
- Take away the Rangers' horrific 3-7 start, and the Rangers went 40-24-5 in their last 69 games. That includes a stretch in the middle of the season where the Rangers slumped their way through a nine-game home stand with a 3-4-1 record. Those are pretty impressive numbers.
- Which means you need to give Alain Vigneault a lot of credit for not letting the pressure get to him when people were screaming for the Rangers to remove his head before the season was 11 games old. He stuck to his guns, didn't change his system and made the Rangers successful.
- I've brought this up before, but I feel like I should bring it up again here. The harmonization of Vigneault and John Tortorella was at a fever pitch this year. The fact the Rangers made the playoffs the same night the Canucks were mathematically eliminated from the post-season has lead to a significant amount of chest pounding from the MSM that hated Tortorella while he was in New York. Sadly, it's not that black and white. And while it's not my job to defend anyone, if Tortorella takes the fall for that mess is Vancouver it's a sham.
- That being said, I still believe firing Tortorella and hiring Vigneault was the right move. I thought that in October, too.
- The Flyers are two points behind the Rangers with a single game in hand. The Rangers have two more ROW however, so the Flyers would need to overtake the Rangers in points to leap over them for home ice through the first round of the playoffs. Same goes for Columbus -- who are four points back with one game in hand -- however the Rangers have seven more ROW than the Blue Jackets.
- That means the Rangers need 97 points (3-0 to finish the season) to clinch home ice (assuming the Flyers go 4-0 in their final four games). Any combination of six points (Flyers dropping points or Rangers gaining points) gives the Rangers home ice.
- Any combination of three points with the Blue jackets (Rangers earning points or the Blue Jackets dropping them) clinches a Metropolitan Divisional playoff spot, and thus avoids the wildcard.
Thoughts on this guys?