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Rangers-Devils: Playoff Preview on Sunday?

Mike RappaportAnalyst IIApril 5, 2008

The NHL regular season has reached its final weekend, and there are still many scenarios for the Rangers first-round playoff series. If you are having trouble following all of the possible matchups for the Rangers, here is some help: 

Most likely, Sunday's game vs. the New Jersey Devils will be a preview for the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. Going into Sunday's game, the Rangers trail the Devils in the standings by one point. In order for the Rangers to get home-ice advantage, they will have to beat New Jersey in regulation. If the Rangers win in overtime or in a shootout, they will be tied with the Devils in points, but the Devils will still have more wins this year than the Rangers, thus giving them a higher seed.

There is also the possibility that the Rangers will drop down to the 6th seed. Right now, the Rangers are two points ahead of the Boston Bruins, and both teams have one game left. The Rangers will drop to 6th, if Boston beats the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday night, and the Rangers lose in regulation to the Devils on Sunday. This would give both teams identical records, but Boston, who has gone 3-0-1 against the Rangers this year, would get the tiebreaker.

So, if the worst case scenario happens, and the Rangers finish in 6th place, their would-be opponent still hasn't been determined yet. The Hurricanes have finished their season with 92 points, while the Capitals also have 92 points with one game left. If the Capitals win that game, or lose in overtime or in a shootout, they will win the southeast division and play the 6th seed. However, if the Caps lose in regulation, the Hurricanes would win the division because they have more wins.

Anyway, if that was still confusing, here is the bottom line:

Rangers get 4th seed if: Rangers beat Devils in regulation on Sunday.

Rangers get 5th seed if: Rangers beat Devils in overtime or shootout, Rangers lose to Devils in overtime or shootout, Boston loses to Buffalo on Saturday.

Rangers get 6th seed if: Boston beats Buffalo, and the Rangers lose to the Devils in regulation. (Rangers would play Hurricanes if Washington loses in regulation to Florida. Rangers would play Washington if Washington beats Florida, or loses to Florida in overtime, or in a shootout).

Phew! Enjoy the playoffs Rangers fans. This could be something special!

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