Mar 19, 2012, 11:32 PM EDT
The St. Louis Blues have done their best to try to shrug off becoming the NHL’s first team to clinch a playoff berth. The New York Rangers are far more justified in taking a blase attitude about being the East’s first, however, as they’re nowhere near as comfortable as the odds-on Central Division winners must be (deep down).
It makes sense, then, that the Rangers clinched their playoff spot with a tough 4-2 win against the New Jersey Devils.This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
If division titles didn’t determine seeding, the East’s top four teams would all come from the Atlantic. Excluding the Larry Brooks-abused New York Islanders, the Devils are the only team without a realistic chance to usurp the Rangers for the Atlantic:
(1) Rangers: 97 points, 10 games left, 45 wins (42 in regulation/OT)
(4): Pittsburgh: 94 points, 11 games left, 44 wins (35 in regulation/OT)
(5): Philadelphia: 92 points, 10 games left, 42 wins (39 in regulation/OT)
(6): New Jersey: 87 points, nine games left, 41 wins (30 in regulation/OT)
Yup, the Rangers’ win probably put the Devils’ already-slim Atlantic dreams to bed, but the Penguins remain a serious threat. Pittsburgh has a game in hand and one more contest against the Blueshirts, so John Tortorella & Co. can’t take it easy just because the postseason is now guaranteed.
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