Originally written on The Rangers Tribune  |  Last updated 9/20/14

With the Philadelphia Flyers losing a point against the Ottawa Senators on Saturday afternoon, the New York Rangers officially clinched home ice advantage in the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs. If you recall, prior to the start of the season the team's common goal, within the locker room at least, was to earn home ice advantage by claiming a top-four spot in the Eastern Conference. So, essentially they've fulfilled their wish for the 2011-12 regular season, but one task still remains for this team before the start of the postseason in just over a week. A goal that they maybe didn't have their sights on in September. 

That task is to clinch first overall in the East, and possibly the entire National Hockey League as well. Just four games will be played in the month of April prior to the start of the playoffs, and the first of those four will be played this evening against the Boston Bruins at Madison Square Garden. In those four games, they need any combination of three points earned by themselves or lost by the second place Pittsburgh Penguins to secure first overall in the Conference. Therefore if the Pens get anything less than two points in their matinee match-up with the Philadelphia Flyers this afternoon, the Rangers could clinch with a win over Boston. 

The most remarkable thing about all of this is that today marks the beginning of the final week of regular season play in the NHL. Last year it felt as if the regular season was an ongoing, drawn-out process that had yanked the energy out of the Rangers and their fan base come April. But this year the Blueshirts and their faithful have sort of set their speed to cruise control and have saved their energy to amp up next week. There's still much more hockey to be played if the Rangers wish to make this an extra special season, and this particular group of guys appears to be more prepared for that than any team we've seen put together in the recent past. 

I think part of that has to do with the fact that the Rangers have been a dominant team since November. Sure, they've had their ups and downs, but they never hit as low as they did in 2011-12. There were no embarrassing droughts or instances in which their playoff lives were in jeopardy. When you look at it all, yes the Rangers have battled to earn their position, but this was an easy road to the postseason compared to years past. And considering all of the distractions there have been along the way, that's very impressive. 

It's been one enjoyable season to watch as a fan of the Rangers, that's for sure. But we surely aren't ready to call it a season just yet. Not only have the playoffs not begun yet, but there is also still work to be done in the final four games on the schedule as mentioned above. The Rangers have a legitimate shot at finishing first in the entire League to get their hands on the President's Trophy - a feat they've only accomplished twice before in franchise history. Their most recent was in 1993-94, when they won the Cup, finishing with 112 points on the season. 

But that is something that will have to work itself out since there is no controlling what goes on in the Western Conference. However, the Rangers can control whether or not they maintain first in their Conference, and as I said, that is their final task of the regular season before the start of the playoffs. 

That first place spot is more important than many think. It will likely have the Rangers playing either the Washington Capitals or the Buffalo Sabres as the eighth seed, and it will guarantee home ice through the Conference Finals if they were to make it that far. Not only that, but if they finish first and the race for eighth is close next Saturday, the Rangers may have the opportunity to determine their first round opponent when they finish the regular season against the Capitals. Now wouldn't that be interesting?

But for now they will take things one day at a time, beginning tonight against the Bruins. The Pens had their eleven-game winning streak cut short by the Flyers earlier in the month, and the Rangers are undefeated against the Bruins this season. So New York may be checking their final task of the regular season off the to-do list by the end of the night. 

Remember a few weeks ago when the 'experts' were claiming that the Rangers were "done"? Hmmmm, guess they missed the target on that one, eh?

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
1 Comment:
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Cavs beat Hawks without Kyrie Irving, take 2-0 lead

John Wall tells All-NBA Team voters to ‘keep sleeping’

Minor League team cancels 'A-Rod Juice Box Night'

Dolphins teammate on Dion Jordan: It’s a bad situation

Texans reportedly the favorite to be featured on ‘Hard Knocks’

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Goodell will not recuse himself from Brady appeal

Will Smith suspended eight games for 'foreign substance'

Report: Kobe Bryant likely to retire following next season

Don Shula named in painkiller lawsuit from former NFL players

Kyrie Irving questionable for Game 2 versus Atlanta

Michael Sam signs with CFL’s Montreal Alouettes

The Los Angeles Angels are finally finding their groove

Re-evaluating all 30 MLB teams at the quarter mark

Is virtual reality training the next leap forward for football?

Warriors a very shaky 2-0 against the Rockets

NFL icon Bud Grant zings Pats with Deflategate joke on Twitter

RG3 announces birth daughter's birth on social media

Don't listen to Nick Saban, the bowl system is just fine

MLB scores partial victory in minor league wage lawsuits

Ranking the NBA Playoffs' most significant injuries

WATCH: Will Smith ejected for foreign substance on arm

Guy behind NFL's social media trolling of Pats is a Jets fan?

In defense of 76ers general manager Sam Hinkie

NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

John Wall tells All-NBA Team voters to ‘keep sleeping’

Jim Kelly: No doubt Tom Brady cheated

Post-combine NBA Draft big board: Top 30

Ex-players sue NFL for conspiring to push painkillers

Astros surprising, but can get better with Correa

Here come the Giants

Aaron Hernandez got new tattoo in prison

TUF weekly recap by NOS® Energy Drink

Ten players who could benefit due to PAT rule change

Five QBs set for breakout campaigns

Report: Lakers will pursue Thibodeau

MLS leaders struggling with attendance

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.