Well, it’s that time of year when the NHL regular season winds down but now the fun begins  -the Stanley Cup playoffs are only a week away.  With the last games being played, the big question that Rangers’ fans need to ask is who the Blueshirts will play in the first round of the postseason?

The finals days of the NHL season.

The New York Rangers seems to be destined to finish up in a respectable third place in tough Metro Division.  With 104 points right now, it is highly unlikely (though mathematically possible) that the Rangers could move up to to a second or even first place spot in the division.  The Rangers have 104 points (with one point gained in the OT loss to the St. Louis Blues) and sit four points behind the New Jersey Devils and five behind the division-leading Carolina Hurricanes.

The NHL playoff bracket has the Metro Division #3 team play the Metro Division #2 team in the playoff first round and on the surface it appears that the Rangers will be playing the Devils starting next week.  However, there’s only one point separating the Hurricanes and the Devils and stranger things have happened in sports history.  The Devils at one point this season were the hottest team on ice and as the season winds down, the Devils are coming off of a modest two game winning streak a

playoffs
ELMONT, NEW YORK – OCTOBER 08: Vincent Trocheck #16 of the New York Rangers prepares for a faceoff against the New York Islanders during the first period at the UBS Arena on October 08, 2022 in Elmont, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

d a slightly better record than the Hurricanes in the last ten games played.

Why does the Rangers’ opponent matter in the first round?

That’s a pretty simple answer given the fact that the Blueshirts have a better record against the Hurricanes than the Devils this season so far.  The Rangers are 3-1-0 against Carolina but only 1-2-1 against the Devils.  The Rangers played the Hurricanes last season in the playoffs and won, advancing to the Eastern Conference finals against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

While the regular seasons wins and losses won’t have a huge bearing on playoff performances, the Rangers may want to face the Hurricanes in the first round rather than later on given their success earlier in the season against them.  Regardless of who the Rangers face, they are certain to go to the playoffs and now the real season begins.

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