The final week of the NHL regular season is here. With just three games remaining before the playoffs begin, here’s a breakdown of each of the Rangers’ remaining matchups.
The Blueshirts take on the ‘Canes Tuesday at the Garden. The first time these two teams met at MSG was on Nov. 2 when the Rangers, buoyed by a Derek Stepan hat trick, routed Carolina, 5-1. With a loss Tuesday, the Hurricanes would be eliminated from postseason contention. Carolina’s offense is ranked 22nd in scoring with just 2.5 goals per game. Their dreadful power play is second to last in the NHL at just 14.2%, so it should not be an issue for the Rangers’ fifth-ranked penalty kill.
It’s practically a day off on Thursday, when the league-worst Sabres come to town. After trading away virtually all of their good players in an effort to rebuild, Buffalo features the league’s worst offense, scoring 1.8 goals per game. The Rangers have won both meetings with the Sabres this season and goaltender Henrik Lundqvist was outstanding in both. He has one shutout and has stopped 56 of 57 shots that the Sabres have sent his way.
The Rangers and Canadiens will both finish their 2013-14 campaigns on Saturday night, so the two are unlikely to have much at stake when the Rangers head to the Bell Centre to face the Habs. Although it is also possible that the regular goalies will get a day of rest in preparation for the postseason, the game should still be a good one. Montreal, like the Rangers, features an above-average defense led by top-scoring blueliners P.K. Subban and Andrei Markov.