The New York Rangers' 2010-11 season is officially on the brink.
The Rangers got no help from the Atlanta Thrashers or Philadelphia Flyers, and fell into ninth place in the Eastern Conference playoff race heading into the final day of season.
The Rangers can only get into the playoffs two ways:
1. With a win over the New Jersey Devils on Saturday afternoon and any type of Carolina Hurricanes' loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday night.
2. With an overtime (or shootout) loss to the Devils and a regulation Hurricanes loss to the Lightning.
Otherwise, for the second straight season, the Rangers will miss the playoffs on the final day of the season. And they will have no one but themselves to blame.
The Rangers were in the driver's seat in late March, but wound up going 2-3-0 in their last five games and lost control of their own destiny. They held a seven-point lead on the Canes after games played Mar. 26, but have lost all of that in just under two weeks.
A Rangers regulation (or overtime) win and a Canes shootout win would leave both teams with 93 points and 35 regulation and overtime wins, but Carolina wound up taking the season series 2-0-2 (they accumulated more points) and owns the second tiebreaker because of that.
For clarification, see below (courtesy of ESPN.com):
Tiebreaker: In the event teams are tied in the standings, the following tiebreakers are applied to determine which team receives the higher seeding.
1. The fewer number of games played (i.e., superior points percentage).
2. The greater number of games won (not including games won in a shootout).
3. The greater number of points earned in games between the tied clubs. If two clubs are tied, and have not played an equal number of home games against each other, points earned in the first game played in the city that had the extra game shall not be included. If more than two clubs are tied, the higher percentage of available points earned in games among those clubs, and not including any "odd" games, shall be used to determine the standing.
4. Goal differential.