After the dreadful start for the New York Rangers this season, did anyone imagine this? The Rangers beat the Buffalo Sabres in an ugly 2-1 game and the Philadelphia Flyers lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning. That means the Rangers clinched home ice for their first-round playoff series against the Flyers or Columbus Blue Jackets.
Considering the Rangers’ start to this season, this is a huge plus. After the first two and a half months, people were wondering if the Rangers were even going to get into the playoffs. Head coach Alain Vigneault and his staff deserve a ton of credit for being patient with this group.
It remains to be seen who the Rangers are going to play in the first round. If they play the Flyers, home ice could be a huge advantage. The Flyers have only won one game at Madison Square Garden since 2011. If the Rangers play the Blue Jackets, home ice could be less of an advantage. There are at least 5-7 players on the Blue Jackets who have played with the Rangers at one point or another, they will not be fazed by the lights.
The Rangers have one remaining game left against the Montreal Canadiens. We can officially say that the game against the Canadiens is useless for the Rangers. Expect Cam Talbot to get the start and also expect Ryan McDonagh to be held out of the lineup again. This is a good achievement for the Rangers. Having home ice can be a huge difference in the playoffs. The Rangers have to capitalize on that advantage.