The New York Rangers are on the outside of the playoffs with quite a long way to go, but they still have a chance. Here’s how the Rangers can still make the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The Stanley Cup Playoff race is wide open across the NHL this season, especially in the Eastern Conference. Is it possible that the New York Rangers can sneak their way in? Or maybe the real question, should they even try?
New York is 11 points out of a playoff spot with 50 points, putting them in 13th in the Eastern Conference. However, the Rangers have games in hand on some of the teams ahead of them, so adjusting the standings to points percentage puts them at 11th with 1.042 points per game.
The most important thing to look at is the amount of competition the Rangers have. The playoff race in the East is numerous, the Rangers still sit on the outside of that. In order to get into a playoff spot, the Rangers would have to leapfrog at very least the Maple Leafs, Flyers, and one of the Hurricanes or Blue Jackets who sit in the wild card spots right now.
The projected cutoff for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference is 95 points, according to Hockeyviz. For the Rangers to just make that threshold, they would need to go the rest of the season with at least a 21-11-3 record. However, getting 100 points is almost always a sure bet to get into the playoffs. To reach that mark, the Rangers would need to go 23-8-4. Over the course of a full season, that would be a 117 point pace.
The odds of the Rangers making up an 11 point deficit in the playoff race are quite slim according to the projections. Moneypuck gives New York an 8.6 percent chance, while SportsClubStats gives them an 11.4 percent chance. Dom Luszczyszyn of The Athletic is even more bearish on the Rangers’ chances, with his model giving them a 2 percent chance.
If the Rangers were to make it into the playoffs, the most likely spot would be the second wildcard where they would likely face the Washington Capitals (4.3 percent or Boston Bruins (2.9 percent ) in the first round.
But the question of this season for the Rangers is not if they will make the playoffs, but should they try? In order to make the playoffs, that would have to mean not selling anything at the upcoming trade deadline, and would have to likely buy instead. That would seem less than ideal for a team that’s spent the last two seasons acquiring future assets and is seemingly one year away from true playoff contention.
The Rangers have the most valuable rental asset on the trade market this deadline with Chris Kreider and could fetch a serious return for him if they decide to move him. They could also extend him like they’ve been rumored to, but they need to know what he’s going to do before the deadline because they can’t let him walk and get nothing in return. If Kreider is moved however, any slim chance of making the playoffs goes right out the window.
A lot has to go right for the Rangers to end the season in the playoffs, too much. Not only do they need to play at an unparalleled pace in order just get into the race, but they need several other teams in front of them to drop off as well.
It’s not impossible, but it’s better for the future to explore selling at the deadline and continuing to rebuild.