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Rangers clinch Metropolitan Division’s No. 2 spot, home-ice advantage in first round

Apr 10, 2014, 10:26 PM EDT

Buffalo Sabres v New York Rangers Getty Images

The New York Rangers have come a long way from their challenging nine-game opening road trip. With their regulation win and the Philadelphia Flyers’ regulation loss on Thursday, they’ve now claimed the second spot in the Metropolitan Division (and the first-round series home-ice advantage that comes with it).

Not bad for a team that seemed aimless at times this season. They can now rest on their laurels in their final game of the season on Saturday after only losing four games (three in regulation) since March 18 (going 10-2-1 in that span).

Their first-round opponent hasn’t been settled yet and their preference might be a matter of opinion.

If it ends up being the Philadelphia Flyers, there are pros and cons. The positive side for the Rangers is that they’ve won eight straight games against the Flyers at Madison Square Garden. The bad news is that the Flyers employ a fellow named Claude Giroux.

With apologies to rising star Ryan Johansen, the Columbus Blue Jackets don’t have a marquee star at Giroux’s level (yet). They’re still a dangerous, pesky team that won both of their games at MSG, however.

Feel free to battle it out regarding the Rangers’ ideal opponent in the comments, but the one certainty is that they’ll begin the playoffs in the Big Apple thanks in part to their continued success on Thursday.

  1. 7mantel - Apr 10, 2014 at 10:30 PM

    Now they can rest a few players !

  2. areaman714 - Apr 10, 2014 at 10:34 PM

    I remember Rangers fans going ballistic during their horrendous start . . .

    • 7mantel - Apr 10, 2014 at 10:42 PM

      And I remember NYR fans who didn’t !

      • billiam55 - Apr 10, 2014 at 11:20 PM

        yuppp. i was one of those fans who watched that san jose 9-2 game all the way through the end………..many times i ws tempted to turn it off but i showed my strength lol

      • 7mantel - Apr 11, 2014 at 6:35 AM

        I watched all the west coast games with one eye open by the third period ! Cursed the NHL for having the NYR play out west to start the season !

      • joey4id - Apr 11, 2014 at 8:05 AM

        As a partial observer I remember writing on PHT that the Rangers would finish ahead of the Flyers because they have a better coach and goalie. If the Flyers hold on to 3rd they will lose to the Rangers for the same reasons.

      • cofran2004 - Apr 11, 2014 at 8:46 AM

        It was hard not to, but it was very early. I remember people wanting lundqvist out as the #1 goalie too.

    • barkar942 - Apr 11, 2014 at 2:48 AM

      And I was one of them. Never would have believed they would even come close to the playoffs. Great job by all turning it all around.

  3. arrow43050 - Apr 10, 2014 at 10:38 PM

    From a Rangers’ fan perspective the matchups I’d like to see in the east now are
    Pittsburgh/Columbus
    Rangers/Philly
    Boston/Detroit
    Montreal/Tampa Bay

    Excluding the Rangers, I think the Red Wings have the best chance of knocking off the Bruins of any team that could face them before the Rangers would face the Bruins if they got that far. I also feel the Blue Jackets goaltending makes them much more likely to knock the Penguins off before the Rangers would play the Penguins. I don’t think Columbus has a chance to knock Boston off at all and Detroit matches up better against the Bruins than the Penguins too. All in all I’m just happy the Rangers made the playoffs and are in as good a position as any team not named the Bruins to make a run at winning the East.

    • billiam55 - Apr 10, 2014 at 11:23 PM

      i would honestly love to see a philly/pens series.

      • theblatche - Apr 12, 2014 at 8:07 AM

        The Flyers would beat the Penguins, i just know it

    • flyerspsu - Apr 11, 2014 at 1:28 AM

      well said

      and i think most Flyers fans would agree with that we’d prefer to get the Pens instead of the Rangers in the 1st round, the problem is that if the Flyers fall to the 8th seed they’re screwed so I’d much rather get the Rangers than take the risk of getting either Pens or Bruins

      • hockey412 - Apr 11, 2014 at 8:25 AM

        As a Pens fan I do think the Pens can piece it together this year against the Flyers.

        However if I had to put money on it I’d shut up, run the other way, and pretend I never said anything. I am really hoping the Flyers get the Rangers. WIN DAMMIT.

    • mianfr - Apr 11, 2014 at 8:53 AM

      I think the name of the game in the Eastern Conference playoffs this year is avoid the Bruins for as long as possible…

      • cofran2004 - Apr 11, 2014 at 10:03 AM

        And root as hard as you possibly can against them. I know that’s my plan. Nothing against the B’s… I respect the hell out of their talent and team in general. But I sure as hell hope someone else beats them so the rangers don’t have to.

      • theblatche - Apr 12, 2014 at 8:09 AM

        Totally agree but in all honesty, if you want to be the best, you gotta beat the best. If my team played the Bruins, i would just hope they play them confidently, it would take the B’s by surprise to play a hungry underdog

  4. stakex - Apr 10, 2014 at 10:58 PM

    Its pretty much a toss up for the first round matchup. Columbus is playing better at the moment (the Flyers have gone ice cold in fact), but I think on paper the Flyers can be a more dangerous team. Either one of them should make for a good series though.

  5. muckleflugga - Apr 10, 2014 at 11:02 PM

    areaman714

    perhaps you can elaborate … fill your idea out … i’m sure you have a lot of good things and ideas to share

    maybe put yourself at risk while defining your understandings of hockey

    • areaman714 - Apr 10, 2014 at 11:19 PM

      What gives you the impression that your opinion matters to me?

  6. billiam55 - Apr 10, 2014 at 11:13 PM

    credit to the sabres they fought hard in this game and certainly not the best game for rangers but im glad they got the two points and home ice. time to focus on playoffs now. philly should be an exciting series.

  7. nashernation - Apr 10, 2014 at 11:24 PM

    The Brassard line will give match up fits in the playoffs. Best third line in the league. The King is rolling at the right time. Nasher and St Louis are inching closer to something special.

    • flyerspsu - Apr 11, 2014 at 1:43 AM

      best 3rd line in the league? I doubt you have looked too much into this, there are a lot of good 3rd lines out there,for starters the team I follow has the Read-Couturier-anybody line that is pretty incredible

      Couturier is one of the best shutdown forwards in the game albeit at the age of 21, Read is real good defensively and is a great skater and sniper that would be a 30 goal guy if given offensive minutes, that line starts in the defensive zone 60% of the time, despite that Read is still a 20-25 goal guy, the two of them together are ridiculous, as of a few weeks ago the Couturier – Read tandem on the PK created more shots on goal than shots against, just think about that, you could make a case they are the 2nd and 3rd best forwards on the team, their ice time is even 2nd and 3rd among forwards after Giroux

      so the point is i doubt you looked into this too much considering the team I follow’s 3rd line is probably better already, you have a good 3rd line but I highly doubt its the best in the league, I’d certainly choose the Flyer’s 3rd line over yours

      • moarjam - Apr 11, 2014 at 9:53 AM

        I don’t know who has the best 3rd line in the league because I cant tell you every 3rd line but I have watched both the flyers and rangers extensively and I can tell you the Brassard, Zuccarello and Pouliot line blow the Couturier, Read and whoever is there that day line out of the water–Offensively. Zuccarello has 60 points for crying out loud!

        Couturier and Read are good players, no doubt and better defensively but if you are comparing them offensively there is no comparison. Pou-brass-zuc DO create terrible matchup problems when put out there against the 2nd and 3rd pair Dmen which is what nashernation’s point was.

      • cofran2004 - Apr 11, 2014 at 10:19 AM

        I think we’re going to fall along party lines in this argument, but I think we can all agree both third lines are pretty good. Zucc has been amazing, and Pouliot is having the best year he’s ever had as an NHL forward. Brassard adds a little nastiness, and is willing to go to the net in order to get rewarded.

        But Read is definitely more than a 3rd line forward. Couturier is a perfect 3rd line forward. They play excellent together as well. I dont have the benefit of watching them every night, but they both played some time in ADK, and they were pretty decent down here. We’ll have to see how it turns out, but if NYR and PHI play, it’ll be an interesting series, for sure.

      • flyerspsu - Apr 11, 2014 at 11:02 AM

        ok i was drunk when I wrote that, let me explain myself a little better

        im not looking at just offensively which obviously NYR has the clear edge, im looking at everything, they are completely different lines, the flyers 3rd line is one of the best shutdown lines in the league that can still score, when Raffl takes downie’s spot next year its scoring and defense will be even better, the rangers 3rd line will score more, they got to be one of the highest scoring if not the highest scoring 3rd line in the league, but the Flyers 3rd line will completely shutdown whatever line they face off against, they are the line used most by the Flyers, like I said they start in the defensive zone 60% of the time yet still outshoot their opponents and have better possession and on the penalty kill the tandem outshoots the PP they are against which is insane, when the Flyers replace someone for Downie with Raffl or Laughton next year its gonna be even better

        maybe its my Flyers bias, but Couturier and Read are 2 of the most underrated players in league and imo probably the 2nd and 3rd best all around forwards on the Flyers

  8. trbowman - Apr 10, 2014 at 11:57 PM

    Everyone should be cheering for CBJ/NYR in the first round. It’s a budding rivalry.

    Furthermore, let’s remember something more important – Philly falling to the second wildcard spot gives us another playoff series between the Flyers and the Penguins. Get your popcorn ready. Who doesn’t want that?

  9. muckleflugga - Apr 10, 2014 at 11:58 PM

    areaman714

    off course my opinion is of no consequence to you … this in spite of the fact you have habitually followed me in these boards with half-wit rejoinder possessed of one line idiocy

    i challenge you to declare your team, then put forth commentary of your own comprised of argument substantiated by fact, proof, experience and demonstrable knowledge of hockey

    none of which you betray in your offerings

    if not able, then spare yourself the luxury of wallowing in your infectious stupidity substantiated by thumbs-up from the commonly afflicted … simply put

    put up or shut up

  10. trbowman - Apr 11, 2014 at 12:05 AM

    I want a test – thumbs up this comment if you’re not a Chicago, Pittsburgh, Philly, Detroit, NYR or Boston fan.

    BUFFALO, man.

  11. barkar942 - Apr 11, 2014 at 2:51 AM

    As long as the Rangers don’t play Washington again this..oh wait. Ovie is going golfing. My bad.

  12. rpiotr01 - Apr 11, 2014 at 8:03 AM

    You never really want to play a team that has a goalie capable of winning games by himself, and that team is Columbus.

    Still, it’s the playoffs. Everything goes up a notch and there really are no easy outs.

    • hockey412 - Apr 11, 2014 at 8:29 AM

      I hear that Lundqvist guy is pretty good too, though.

    • cofran2004 - Apr 11, 2014 at 10:24 AM

      Lundqvist is definitely up there too. I think the rest of the east will be rooting for a NYR/Columbus first round so at least one of the best goalies in the east will be romoved. The alternative is that none, one, or both could move on, and I don’t think anyone really wants that.

  13. flyboystransport - Apr 11, 2014 at 8:48 AM

    The flyers backed into the playoffs 2 and 4 years ago and look what happened…..cup run and a first round spanking given to the pens.

  14. cruuuzcontrol - Apr 11, 2014 at 9:32 AM

    Flyers fans… Never ones to keep the Comcast-flavored Kool Aid out of reach

  15. zevkizz - Apr 11, 2014 at 10:20 AM

    The way Nash played in his trip back to Columbus last month, I will love to see a NYR/CBJ match up

  16. slammed81 - Apr 11, 2014 at 6:22 PM

    Flyerspsu .. Flyers can play Bruins in the first round Or ECF u don’t reseed in the second Rd.. So if it’s Rangers vs flyers whoever wins plays the winner in the Pitt series

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