For a few short days it seemed as though the New York Rangers were going to be able to steal the sixth seed away from the Montreal Canadiens, and give themselves a much more favorable matchup in the playoffs.
Here is a quick look at the standings:
6. Montreal- 89 points in 78 games. (38)
7. Buffalo- 87 points in 77 games. (34)
8. New York- 87 points in 78 games. (33)
9. Carolina- 84 points in 77 games. (32)
The numbers in parentheses are the respective teams regulation and overtime wins. Normally, the first tiebreaker if two teams have the same number of points is wins; but not anymore. This year the NHL has taken shootout wins away from that category, creating a ROW column (regulation and overtime wins) as the first tiebreaker.
This does not bode well for the Rangers, who have won eight games in the shootout this season.
If New York wants to overtake Montreal, they're going to have to do it by passing them in points now; since the Rangers can only tie the Canadiens in ROW wins not pass them.
The Hurricanes, who were five points back three days ago, have crept to within three games of the Rangers with a game in hand.
The Rangers hold on a playoff spot, once comfortable, is now tenuous once again.
The Rangers final four games are no cakewalk either, matching up against Philadelphia, Boston, Atlanta and New Jersey. All of those teams have or had playoff aspirations at some point this season. In the Flyers case, they're tops in the Conference.
The road to a playoff berth just got that much harder. Despite the back-to-back stinkers, the Rangers still hold their own destiny. If New York wins out, they are guaranteed a playoff spot. If they lose even one game, things will get interesting.
But hey, that's why we watch right?