The Rangers play the first of their five remaining regular season games tonight against the Avalanche. As the season comes to a close, amNewYork answers some important questions regarding the final stretch of the Rangers' schedule.
Can the Rangers earn first-round home ice?
Based on the new playoff format, the Rangers (90 points, second in the Metropolitan Division) would play the division's third seed, the Flyers (87 points). The Flyers and Rangers should square off in the first round, with the higher seed earning home ice advantage. The Rangers' three-point lead seems secure given the way they have been playing as of late. However, the Flyers have two games in hand, meaning the Rangers will likely need a little help from other teams.
Can Martin St. Louis get on a roll?
St. Louis finally scored his first goal as a Ranger (30th overall this season) in Tuesday night's 3-1 win over the Canucks. Although it took him 15 games, the timing could wind up being a blessing in disguise. With the monkey off his back and a rough patch behind him, St. Louis could get hot at the right time. Given the fact that he hasn't played in the playoffs since the 2010-11 season, he should be very motivated to be playing for the Stanley Cup again.
Will Hank stay hot?
Goalie Henrik Lundqvist has been excellent of late, going 9-3 with a .923 SV% in his last 12 starts. Although he has historically had mixed results following the Olympics, Lundqvist has laid those worries to rest with his solid play after the Sochi break. Playoff hockey is all about riding the hot goaltender, and few are playing as well as he is right now.
Is Benoit Pouliot the team’s best role player?
He isn’t often talked about, but Pouliot’s game-winning, power play goal on Tuesday night gave him his 32nd point of the season, tying a career high. It also tied him with Derick Brassard for the team lead with seven power play goals. He now has five points (one goal, four assists) in his last five games and has been playing significant time on the power play, with a combined 6:36 in his last two games.