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Rangers Look To Lock Up First-Round Home Ice Tonight Against Buffalo

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After Tuesday’s 4-1 win over the Canes, the Blueshirts are still sitting pretty in the second slot of the Metro with playoffs just a week away. A regulation win tonight against the league’s worst team would give them the tiebreakers against both Philly (goal diff.) & Columbus (ROW). Any win coupled with a Flyers regulation loss to TB would clinch first-round home ice. Considering how the season started, fans really can’t complain about how the Rangers‘ year has played out…but I’m going to bitch anyway.

I’m trying to look for a reason to be hyped about the Rangers post-season chances. On the surface, I should be. I get it’s the B’s conference to lose, but a #1 seed hasn’t come out of the East since before the lockout. So if it ends up not being Boston, why not NY? Since January, they’re 24-12-3 thanks in large part to the league’s best netminding over that span. While they’re not an elite scoring squads, they’ve certainly gotta be one of the most balanced. Still, especially lately, I haven’t seen a game on the ice that translates to playoff success. Coming off a 5-game win streak, the Blueshirts haven’t exactly been closing their regular season on fire. Losses to a couple of non-playoff squads are disappointing enough – but even beating them is a bummer. They should’ve lit Carolina up 10-1 Tuesday night. So many missed opportunities they won’t get away with against a playoff team. And in their last “playoff-caliber” matchup with Colorado, the Rangers were absolutely manhandled in the final 20 & coughed up a W.

Maybe I’m over-analyzing things. Even though most teams are dealing with injuries at this point, maybe losing Kreids & McD hurts the Blueshirts more. Maybe Marty St. Louis is gonna find the net in every single playoff game to make up for his current stretch of scorelessness in 28 of his last 31. I just thought the Rangers had the chance to smash their way into the best post-season in sports & instead are simply coasting in thanks to a soft schedule. We’ll see next week if McDonagh’s return & a playoff atmosphere will flip the switch. For now, though, I’ll settle for a thumping of the Sabres.

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