Tonight, the New York Rangers will square off against the Philadelphia Flyers in an attempt to clinch home ice advantage throughout the entire Eastern portion of the playoffs. The Rangers look to earn their 108th and 109th point of the regular season as Henrik Lundqvist leads his team up against a returning Ilya Bryzgalov and the Flyers. The Rangers were unsuccessful on Sunday in a chance to clinch against the Bruins but tonight the focus remains the same.
When some of the players were asked about what tonight meant due to the fact that the Rangers have an opportunity to sweep the season series, the team explained that there is no thought about that possibility.
John Tortorella also commented on how the final stretch of the season could be a great way to prepare for the playoffs.
With one point won or lost by the Penguins tonight, the Rangers can lock up the division and conference. This would be a huge advantage considering how well the Rangers have played at home. The Rangers’ home record of 27-11-2 is best in the Eastern Conference, fourth overall in the NHL. When the Rangers do have to go on the road, they have played well and have a record of 23-11-5 which is good enough for third best in the NHL.
Here is the projected lineup for the Rangers tonight.
Carl Hagelin | Brad Richards (A) | Marián Gáborík
Brandon Dubinsky | Brian Boyle | Ryan Callahan (C)
Ruslan Fedotenko | Derek Stepan | Artem Anisimov
Mike Rupp | John Mitchell | Brandon Prust
Ryan McDonagh | Dan Girardi
Marc Staal (A) | Anton Strålman
Michael Del Zotto | Stu Bickel
38-17 -5; .932 SV%; 1.92 G.A.A.; SO: 8
The Rangers are likely going to clinch the Atlantic Division and the Eastern Conference this week and have a legitimate shot at winning the Stanley Cup come June. One week ago, the Rangers had 99 points and were on a one game losing streak after going 4-6-0 in their last 10 games played.
The last time the Rangers won 50 or more games, they won the Stanley Cup. The last time the team won a Presidents’ Trophy, they won the Stanley Cup. You can argue that the Rangers have some flaws and there wouldn’t be any disagreement because flaws do exist.
However, with the roster as it currently is constructed, you can’t say that a team with 50 wins and the best record in the NHL doesn’t have a legitimate shot at winning it all. As the Rangers finish their season, they will be tested. This isn’t dumb luck, nor is it a fluke. The Rangers are for real and they are ready to prove it in the postseason.
The Rangers will look to seal the deal tonight and you can tune in to watch them do it on MSG2 if you live in tri-state area or CSN if your in the “City of Brotherly Love”.
Tom Urtz is a New York Rangers Columnist.
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