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Rangers face Ottawa, win clinches division, conference & Presidents' Trophy

April 15, 2024, 2:13 PM ET [263 Comments]
Jan Levine
New York Rangers Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
The Rangers task is clear, win and they clinch the Division, the Conference and President’s Trophy. Lose, even if they gain a point, and reliance has to be placed on Columbus beating Carolina for the first two to occur and St. Louis to defeat Dallas in overtime or a shootout. Falter without even gaining a point the task gets even harder (Carolina loss in regulation, Boston with any kind of loss and the same for Dallas). Just Win Baby.

A win would give New York (53-23-4, 112 points) their fourth Presidents’ Trophy in their history (2014-15, 1993-94 and 1991-92). I still believe if Mats Zuccarello was healthy, New York defeats Tampa and plays in the Stanley Cup Finals. With almost half their D core nursing injuries, I don’t know if they beat Chicago. But the offense would have been cooking. A win also would set a new record for team points at 114. All these are nice, but we know they are not the end goal.

The lines tonight at 7:30 against Ottawa should likely be the same we saw Saturday. Personally, I would draw Zac Jones in place of Erik Gustafsson. I think there is no shot we see Filip Chytil, nor should be after just one regular practice.

Rangers probable lineup vs. Senators




Scratches: Brodzinski, Jones, Ruhwedel
LTIR: Chytil, Wheeler

The mentality the team needs to have, and I do think they have it to a certain extent, can be seen in the other denizens of the Garden. No Julius Randle, No OG Anunboy, No Mitchell Robinson during the year, it was next man up. With a chance to play it easy, go for the three seed and a possible easier path forward, Tom Thibodeau’s Knicks said no way, that’s not how we roll. The DNA of the coach and his players, including Jalen Brunson, their best player, is that they will keep grinding and grinding and fighting and fighting until their last breath. The quote below from Thibs says it all.

"Competitors compete. It doesn't matter if it's a game, if it's 1 on 1, if it's a shooting game, if it's dominoes, if it's some crazy podcast... they compete."

The Blueshirts have some of this mentality. With a club-record 28 comeback wins in the year, they certainly don’t throw in the towel. But I would love to see them with even more fight at times. To come out and push the agenda rather than reacting. Be the aggressor in all situations and force the action.

For all the rightful criticism of Mika Zibanejad 5x5, as his performance has tailed off, he was a beat Saturday, especially early. If this is the Zib we see in the playoffs, I will be very happy. While the offensive production has tailed off, his 200 foot play and attention to detail defensively has really not fallen off. All the other little things he does are lost in the 5x5 discussion and his power play performance. If he can carry forward the play we say Saturday early and in the 2023 playoffs, after the first few games, New York will be in very good shape.

All of this talk is for after tonight. The task tonight is very clear: Just Win Baby. Ottawa is not the easiest matchup for some reason. They give New York fits, which may make for some hand wringing moments for the fanbase as they watch the game. What matters is that at the end of 60 or 65 minutes or a shootout, the Rangers have one more goal than the Senators. Find a way to get a W.

As a reminder, I will be out of pocket Monday-Wednesday night, April 22-24 and Sunday-Tuesday night, April 28-30 due to Passover. The overall regular season ends April 18 and the Rangers are projected to start the playoffs Sunday, April 21, with the Knicks opening their round 1 the day before. Presuming that is the case, I should be able to get up a series preview column before the first round kicks off as well as a Game 1 preview and recap blog. You are on your own for Game 2.

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