The Rangers have already clinched a playoff berth and the best record in the Eastern Conference, but the coveted Presidents' Trophy remains up for grabs.
Should they beat the Capitals on Saturday in what may very well be a preview of their first-round matchup, the Rangers will claim the trophy for the first time since the 1993-94 Stanley Cup-winning season.
The Presidents' Trophy is awarded each year to the team that finishes atop the league's regular-season standings. With only one game left, the Rangers are tied with the Vancouver Canucks at 109 points. If both teams win on Saturday, New York owns the tiebreaker by virtue of the team's 47 non-shootout wins.
The promise of a deep playoff run beckons, but the Rangers hope to use the Presidents' Trophy as motivation to cap their successful season accordingly.
"It puts us in a situation to end [the regular season] in the right way," veteran Mike Rupp said. "And it throws out the excuses that there's nothing to play for. There is."
St. Louis may also challenge the Rangers and Canucks for top honors; the Blues trail both teams by two points but have a game in hand. They face a back-to-back set this weekend against Phoenix on Friday and Dallas on Saturday.
This Rangers squad has drawn comparisons to the 1993-94 Cup-winning team throughout the season, and as the accomplishments add up, they hope they can match their predecessors' feat come June.
"It's just another goal to accomplish on our way to the ultimate goal here," said defenseman Ryan McDonagh. "Obviously, coming off a loss [on Thursday], we want to get back to the momentum of winning and feeling good about ourselves."
The Rangers enter Saturday’s match against the Capitals coming off a decisive 5-2 loss against the Penguins.
Not the ideal way to enter the playoffs.
Winning the Presidents' Trophy could change that entirely.
"I'm with the team," coach John Tortorella said. "We want to win that hockey game. It's our last game before we really get going. I think there is a little bit of an incentive there, so we want to win that hockey game. Including me."