When just a single point separates your team from the playoffs and elimination, you know your division must be good. For the New York Rangers, the Metropolitan Division has always been seen as the toughest division in hockey.
In 2022, it’s gotten even tighter.
The Rangers sit at 19-12-5 following their 4-0 loss to Washington and are tied with the Pittsburgh Penguins for the final wild card spot in their division. With over 40 games still to play, there’s still a lot of wiggle room for New York to stake their claim as the top dog in the division.
Unfortunately, their play against their divisional foes has been anything but solid.
With New York’s loss on Tuesday, the Rangers fell to just 4-6 against their Metro division foes. Early season struggles against the Islanders, Flyers and even Blue Jackets have meant that there’s little wiggle room for struggles against the Caps, Penguins, and Devils.
The Blueshirts have improved against their division foes, but every loss to their division now weighs far more due to their early season struggles.
New York has lost the season series to the Islanders, has lost the first game of their season series to the Caps and Penguins, and even has struggled at times with the last-place Blue Jackets. With the top-ranked Carolina Hurricanes upcoming on the schedule, the Rangers have very little room to spare as they try to get into the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the second straight year.
Of course, taking care of their upcoming opponents matters too. With upcoming contests against Tampa Bay, Florida, and Carolina in the coming week, the Rangers will need as many wins as they can muster to keep pace with a division that has two teams with over five-game winning streaks to their mark.