MADISON SQUARE GARDEN, NY – The New York Rangers clinched a playoff berth last week and last night wrapped up the Metropolitan Division with a win against the Angry Ward’s Minnesota Wild. With five games left, the Blueshirts still have a shot at catching the Ducks for top spot in the league. The Los Angles Anaheim Ducks of Anaheim County in Southern California are two points ahead in the race for the President’s Trophy. But the Duckies only have three games left to their season.
As things stand, the Rangers would play Cheesy Bruin’s Bruins in the first round; a match-up of NY speed and the Boston strength. It would be a tough sledding for the Blueshirts – they don’t do well against physical opponents.
Hot on Boston’s heels are the Ottawa Senators, one of the hottest teams in hockey over the last month. They still have some work to do if they are going to catch the Bruins for the last Wild Card spot. And the Bruins may yet catch the Red Wings for the third slot in the Atlantic Division. The B’s and Wings are even on points after Boston’s big win over Detroit last night. Detroit has a game in hand over the Bruins though, so they retain their third place spot in the Atlantic… for now. If the Wings do drop into the Wild Card slot, it would put them on a collision course with the Blueshirts in the first round.
While the Rangers lead the Eastern Conference, Les Habitants could still pip the New Yorkers for the top spot, setting up a first round match against Evil Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals. Ovi is fresh off of scoring his 50th goal of the season a few nights ago. He could give the Rangers fits if Kevin Klein isn’t back from injury before the first round. Klein still looks to be 2-3 weeks away from making his return after having his arm broken by The Evil Ovi a few weeks ago. The good news is that Henrik Lundqvist is healthy and Martin St. Louis made his return to the lineup last night.
But Klein is the last piece of the puzzle. And he’s a big piece. With Dan Boyle in decline and Keith Yandle being prone to costly turnovers, it’s important that the Rangers get back a shut-down defenseman for the playoff push. Matt Hunwick has been serviceable, but he won’t cut it in the playoffs.
The win last night in Minnesota speaks to the strength of the team this season. The Wild are the best team in hockey in 2015, but the Blueshirts handled them in a 3-2 regulation win. The remainder of the schedule sees them play the Devils twice, with a game against the Blue Jackets sandwiched between. After that they host the Senators and end the season next Saturday with a tilt against the Caps in Washington.
Here’s hope the Broadway Blues can secure enough points to win the President’s Trophy. And lets hope Kevin Klein can get healthy in time for the first playoff series, whoever it’s against.
Come back tomorrow for a guy that has never played in a playoff game in his life, Junoir Blaber.