1 PENN PLAZA, NYC – The NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs are right around the corner and the Rangers Playoffs Picture (we’re leaving the possessive “s” off for SEO purposes) is taking shape. The Bruins, Penguins, Habs and Lightning have all clinched playoff berths in the East. The Rangers are holding onto second place in the Metro Division, playing some good hockey of late. The Blueshirts have been helped by the fact that, lately, the Philadelphia Flyers have lost the ability to put the biscuit in the basket.
Right now, barring a Flyers collapse and a surge by the
Ex Rangers Blue Jackets, New York will meet Philadelphia in the first round. I’m not a huge fan of that match-up. Not even considering how well the Rangers have played and how poorly the Flyers have played recently. I think the Rangers have a tough time against teams that play a physical game. Alain Vigneault’s team just isn’t built to bang with the best of them. not since trading away Ryan Callahan. On a side note, Cally has had a good run of form in Tampa since the trade. Good for him. I hope things work out for him down there in the Sunshine State.
In the early 2010’s a crack commando line of hockey players was sent to Ohio for hockey plays they couldn’t make. I think the Rangers match up better against Columbus and their Island of Misfit Rangers than they do agains the Flyers. The Flyers have been playing the same way since the 70’s and the Rangers have always struggled to cope. Sure there have been wins, but they never come easy. Sort of like the Mets at CitiField – or anywhere else… But with Columbus’ win against Philly last night, the Blue Jackets are just two points behind the Flyers for third place in the Metropolitan Division. If Philadelphia keeps struggling to score, then I may get my wish and Columbus may get that third seed. But I guess I should be careful what I wish for.
St. Louis, whom the Rangers acquired in the Callahan trade – and whom The Matts interviewed for yesterday’s podcast – finally scored for the Blueshirts Tuesday night. The goal came in Vancouver against John Tortorella, who was St. Louis’ manager in Tampa for their Cup run in 2004. Hopefully, the goal gets Marty/The Great Gazoo motoring heading into the playoffs. I know the Rangers have recently been stout defensively (Calgary game last week aside), but they will need the goals. I’m still not convinced that this AV style of hockey will keep pucks out of the net. I hope I’m wrong.
Ryan Mcdonagh has been outstanding both defensively and offensively. He took a knock Tuesday night but hopefully his shoulder will be fine for a playoff run. Recent acquisition Raphael Diaz (he’s Swiss if you’re wondering) has been solid at both ends of the ice also. His defending is a bit cavalier at times but it gets the job done. And he has a slapshot that makes Al Iafrate’s look like concussed Short Matt’s.
Saturday night, the Rangers have a chance to clinch a playoff spot at home against an Ottawa Senators team that needs to win out, plus get some help elsewhere to make the playoffs… The Flyers have a tough one in Boston Saturday, followed by a trap-game against the Sabres on Sunday… Columbus plays the Blackhawks tonight and a Jeckyl & Hyde Islanders team on Sunday. It should be an interesting run-in to the playoffs. Watch this space…
Tune in tomorrow for our Great Gazoo, Junoir Blaber.