In odd twist, Rangers’ could have say on who they will play in the first round of playoffs

Apr 21, 2022; Elmont, New York, USA; New York Rangers center Ryan Strome (16) celebrates his goal against the New York Islanders with the New York Rangers bench during the second period at UBS Arena. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers play their final regular-season game tonight against the Washington Capitals and the result could possibly dictate their first-round opponent when the playoffs begin next week.

The New York Rangers will play the Washington Capitals at the garden on Friday night in both teams’ season finale. Though the final score of the game means little for the Blueshirts, the same can not be said for the Capitals who need the win for any chance to move into third place. This puts the Rangers in an obscure situation.

They could have a say in who their first-round opponent will be when the playoffs begin next week.

Washington or Pittsburgh

The Capitals and the Pittsburgh Penguins have been battling for third place in the Metropolitan Divison and the final wild-card spot for the past several months.   It all comes down to their games on Friday night.

Currently, the Penguins hold a one-point advantage (101) over the Capitals (100) in the standings.  Washington and Pittsburgh have lost their last two games setting up an epic 82nd game finale.  The Pens, 4-5-1 in their last 10 games, will play the Columbus Blue Jackets in Pennsylvania at 7 p.m.

Washington is 5-3-2 in their last 10 contests and has been without superstar Alex Ovechkin for the last two games due to an upper-body injury.  His status for tonight’s game against the Blueshirts has not been announced.  The Caps dropped a 5-1 decision to the New York Islanders Thursday night at UBS Arena in Long Island.

What’s at Stake

The scenarios for the Capitals to move into third place and/or for the Penguins to clinch third place are as follows;

  • A win for the Penguins would give them 103 points- clinching third place. If the win comes in overtime or a shootout the Penguins would still lock in third place as the Capitals cannot reach that point total.
  • If the Penguins lose and the Capitals beat the Rangers, the Caps would take third place.
  • If the Penguins lose in OT/SO they would end up with 102 points. Should the Caps win in regulation, they would also have 102 points and they would both have 36 regulation wins.  The third tiebreaker is ROW – The greater number of games won, excluding games won by Shootout.  The Pens hold this advantage and would remain in third place.
  • If the Pens lose in a SO/OT and the Caps win in OT/SO  they would have 102 points and be tied with the Pens in points but would stay in the last wild card position with the Penguins having more regulation wins.

The full tiebreaking situations can be found at NHL.Com

The third-place team will face the Rangers at Madison Square Garden when the playoffs begin.

The last Wild Card team gets to visit the Florida Panthers who won the President Trophy this year.


Follow Frank Curto on Twitter at @RangerProud.