After some doubt following an untimely skid, the Rangers’ playoff chances are looking pretty strong at the moment after going 8-1-1 in their last 10 games. Leading the Carolina Hurricanes by seven points, the Rangers are likely to far exceed the 90-point threshold for the season and have even matched the sixth-place Canadiens with 87 points.
The Canes, meanwhile, essentially need to pick up at least one point over their next seven games to keep pace. That should be a rather tough test for Carolina, with five of their remaining seven opponents currently rating as playoff teams. If they lose four of those games in regulation, even without the Rangers adding another point, the Canes would be eliminated.
If there’s a downside for the Blueshirts it could be that what might be their best possible first-round matchup may be slipping away. A 2 vs. 7 series against the Washington Capitals would probably be the best bet for the Rangers to advance, given their success against Alex Ovechkin and Co. this season. New York won the season series three games to one, with a goal differential of 17-6. In the last three meetings between the teams, Washington has scored just one goal.