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Playoff bubble watch — Rangers edition

Mar 6, 2014, 12:09 PM EDT

Martin St. Louis AP

OK, so now that the trade deadline is behind us, we’re going to start doing these “playoff bubble watch” posts. At the moment, the bubble is a big one, and it includes a lot of teams who would cause quite the ruckus by missing the postseason.

Take the Rangers, who just traded their captain, Ryan Callahan, for Tampa Bay’s 38-year-old captain, Martin St. Louis. For general manager Glen Sather, this is another win-now move, as the New York Post’s Larry Brooks explains:

The Rangers didn’t have a first-round draft choice in 2013 — that pick sent to Columbus in the deal for Rick Nash. They won’t have one in 2015 — that gone with Callahan to Tampa Bay. If they reach the conference finals this year, they won’t have a No. 1 this June, either — the 2014 second-rounder becoming a No. 1.

Now imagine the Rangers miss the playoffs. Because it’s possible, you know. Per Sports Club Stats, their odds of qualifying are 66.7 percent. That’s a two-in-three chance. Better than 50 percent, but plenty of room for failure.

source:  New York has 19 games left to get into the postseason. And of those 19, just seven are at home. Could that be a factor?

True, the Rangers have actually been better on the road (18-11-0) than at MSG (15-15-4), but there’s no definitive reason to believe that trend will continue. Generally speaking, you want to play at home, where you have fan support, the last change and you don’t have travel fatigue.

“Every point is important right now. It’s annoying the way it ends,” Henrik Lundqvist said after last night’s 3-2 overtime loss to Toronto. “We played really well and worked ourselves back into this game. It’s a big frustration right now to not come out of it with two points.”

The Rangers play in Carolina Friday, then come home for a huge game Sunday versus a desperate Detroit side (on NBC). After that, it’s a three-games-in-four-nights trip to Carolina, Minnesota, and Winnipeg.

Look, chances are, the Rangers will make it. They had a tough start to the season while they got adjusted to a new coach and new system and, perhaps most importantly, Lundqvist struggled.

But there’s no denying they’ve got work to do, and the pressure’s on.

  1. hockey412 - Mar 6, 2014 at 12:16 PM

    I’ll bet that Columbus/NYR game on the 21st is going to be intense.

  2. xdj511 - Mar 6, 2014 at 12:21 PM

    The Rangers are 1-2-1 since the break. They beat Chicago, then lost rather badly to Philly and Boston, and lost in overtime to Toronto last night. They went from having the #2 seed in the Met with a slight cushion to being in serious danger of falling out of the playoff picture in a week. I’m sure the Callahan situation was a distraction, and hopefully they’ll be able to put that behind them. When Zucc comes back in a week or so they should have three legitimate scoring lines, if the Nash-Stepan-Kreider line can remember where the back of the net is. I like their chances if they get back to playing the way they were before the olympics.

    Not having a first round pick for a few years isn’t such a big deal if the pick is in the 20’s anyway. The Rangers don’t have a particularly good drafting history but they don’t have much in the way of prospects right now so hopefully they can take a page out of Detroit’s book and make some great late-round pics. They have great depth at D with Falk and Diaz and kids like Allen and McIlrath but there aren’t really any forwards ready to step in at the NHL level beyond JT Miller.

    • mactruck27 - Mar 6, 2014 at 12:51 PM

      I would take Kreider-Stepan-Nash just remembering where the front of the net is at this point.

    • idonthavethebloodyoucrave - Mar 6, 2014 at 1:14 PM

      They beat Chicago because Cam stole a game. Henry has given up over 4 goals a game with a LOLworthy 86% Save Percentage.since the Olympic break. If this team is gonna make the playoffs, they better start letting Cam get more of the workload. Henry has been terrible.

      • xdj511 - Mar 6, 2014 at 1:46 PM

        Hank hasn’t done so well after the break but he was “his old self” for the 6-8 weeks before it. Talbot has been great but you can’t seriously expect him to take over in the net at this point. Hopefully Hank gets over the jet lag and the change in rink size and gets his game back together quickly.

      • idonthavethebloodyoucrave - Mar 6, 2014 at 1:58 PM

        Jetlag? You’re right. That must certainly be the reason he’s ranked 22nd in league.

    • bwayblueshirt - Mar 6, 2014 at 2:42 PM

      Jesper Fast made a strong case in the pre-season, and Oscar Lindberg should be ready to come up in a year or two, but beyond that, I really wish the Rangers would hand on to some of their picks for once. Slats needs to remember where this team came from. Step, Hags, Hank, Kreider, Callahan, Staal, these guys all have one thing in common. They were drafted by NY. Win now deals might have worked in ’94, but twenty years later, I think it’s time to re-evalute that approach.

      • xdj511 - Mar 6, 2014 at 3:36 PM

        The win now approach also turned the Rangers into a moribound franchise with overpaid aging superstars who didn’t sniff the playoffs for 7 years. I am a little worried that they are heading in that direction. Hopefully they can scrounge up enough talent to replace some players as they age or leave for free agency and not end up signing overpriced aging players again.

  3. flyboystransport - Mar 6, 2014 at 12:23 PM

    Dont like what st louis did. If he really asked for a trade because he got an olympic snub then he isnt too much of a team player. Tampa resigns callahan then this deal is one sided.

    • gaborik104life - Mar 6, 2014 at 12:33 PM

      Second rounder comes back to the rags if Cally resigns. Essentially it becomes UFA cally and a 1st for St. Louis so its not as one sided.

    • c9castine - Mar 6, 2014 at 1:22 PM

      We don’t know what happened and if he did I don’t understand it, but Marty St. Louis as much of a teammate and leader as you can hope for

  4. penvik - Mar 6, 2014 at 12:26 PM

    Callahan will look great with Stamkos. Stammer kind if has that effect :)
    Poor Rags, the hockey gods are not impressed, and add good ol Slats to that and this team is destined for a slide! They won the offseason coaching trade mind you !

    • c9castine - Mar 6, 2014 at 1:25 PM

      I would imagine Callahan plays second center and they try to take some of the good young forwards they have and build around those two. That’s the beginning of a championship core. Need a legit top puck mover and they are starting to look pretty good with bishop starting lindbacking up

      • xdj511 - Mar 6, 2014 at 2:23 PM

        Okay, I’ll be the one to say it. Callahan’s a winger.

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