Chris Kreider 1

Rangers Clinch Playoffs With 9 Remaining

Going into last night’s game, the Rangers needed two points to clinch their first playoff appearance since 2016-17 – the Play-in series of the shortened 2019-20 excluded.  By contrast, Ottawa had already been eliminated, and were playing out what they hope will be their last reboulding season for a while.

The difference was clear, as the Rangers rebounded from a 1-0 deficit to reel off five unanswered goals, and seal their spot in the post season.  Artemi Panarin was pivotal in the game, scoring the Rangers’ first goal, and then setting up both Andrew Copp to make it 2-1 and later to feed Ryan Strome in front to make it 4-1.  Chris Kreider chimed in with two goals of his own to round out the 5-1 score for the game, scoring both his goals off the rush.

In net, Igor Shesterkin faced a difficult chance on the first shot he faced, allowing Ottawa to skip out to a 1-0 lead when Alex Watson shook off Alexis Lafreniere, and one-timed a pass high to the stick side of Shesterkin.  It’d be the only goal the Rangers netminder would allow, stopping the next 20 as the Rangers held their opponents to few chances through the first 40 minutes, and really only allowed any offense in the final ten minutes of the game.

With nine games remaining, the team will now work on finishing as high as they can in the playoffs, according to Gerard Gallant.  As remarkable as it sounds, it could now be as high as the 1st seed in the Metropolitan Division, with the Blueshirts now tied with Carolina, though the Hurricanes do have a game in hand.

While Carolina does play today – against Anaheim, it does setup for an interesting contest on Tuesday, when the Canes make their first of two visits to MSG.  New York is now eight points ahead of Pittsburgh, who lost to Washington yesterday, so it would appear that these two games against Carolina will likely determine the final top two seeds in the Metropolitan.

Record breaking seasons
The Rangers have a chance to break their franchise record for wins (53) and points (113), though they would only be able to lose two of their remaining games in regulation to have a shot.

Chris Kreider scored hius 48th and 49th goals last night, and stands on the preicipice of becoming just the fourth Ranger to reach 50 goals in a season.  He would need six goals in his last nine games – assuming he plays them all – to set a new franchise mark of 55 goals.  Two more goals would also tie him with Bill Cook for 10th all time on the Rangers goal scoring charts.

Artemi Panarin now has 88 points on the season, and is just five short of his career high of 93 set in 2019-20.  It’s also possible that he reaches 100 points for the first time in his career, requiring 12 points in his remaining nine games.

Mika Zibanejad also can set a career points mark, with just two more points.  After picking up an assist last night, he now has 74 points, one short of his high of 75 also set in the 2019-20 season.

It seems unlikely that Igor Shesterkin will make it to 40 wins this year, he’s simply missed too many games.  But with 34 wins now, he still technically has a chance to become just the second Rangers – Mike Richter got 42 wins in 1993-94, to reach that milestone.7y6666665

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