Will the Rangers finish the regular season as the Metropolitan Division champions?

New York Rangers left wing Alexis Lafreniere (13) celebrates his goal with teammates during the third period against the New York Islanders at Madison Square Garden
Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers have been sitting in the number-one spot in the Metropolitan Division for practically the entire season thus far, but their lead has significantly diminished over recent weeks. The Metro may not be as dominant as it has been in recent years, but it will still be a tight race to the finish line as the regular season comes close to its end.

The Hurricanes are catching up quickly with stellar play following the trade deadline

The Carolina Hurricanes, who have been second in the Metropolitan for a majority of the season, are quickly closing the gap between them and the Rangers. The Blueshirts are just one point ahead now- but have one game in hand. Luckily, the Rangers were able to cap off their season series against Carolina with a winning record of 2-1, meaning they would come out on top in the case of a tie at the end of the season.

The Hurricanes are catching up to the Rangers quickly, and their dominance isn’t expected to stop anytime soon. They acquired some major names at the trade deadline this year, including Jake Guentzel and Evgeni Kuznetsov. They are 8-1-1 in their last 10 games, helping them shorten the Rangers’ lead to just one point.

The Rangers need to continue beating contenders in order to maintain their lead

March has not been easy for the Blueshirts, as their schedule has had them face off against many contenders in a short span of time. They are 6-3-1 in their last 10 games, which isn’t terrible considering their recent schedule- but it’s not enough to keep the Hurricanes from catching up to them.

The Blueshirts have just 12 games remaining in the regular season, and it’s essential that they treat each one as if it were a playoff matchup. They’ll square off against the Florida Panthers tonight, who are seventh in the NHL and second in the Atlantic Division at this time. Their remaining schedule includes other tough matchups against contenders such as Colorado, but there are some so-called “easy” opponents thrown in there as well.

It’s certainly possible for the Rangers to win the Metropolitan for the first time since 2015, but they’ll need to finish strong in order to keep the Hurricanes from catching up. It’ll certainly be a close race for the division title, as it is every season.

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