Rangers Win Locks them in 1st WC, Final 3 Games Meaningless

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Dave Rogers

Editor-in-Chief at Cleared for Contact
Writer, photographer and a lifelong New York Rangers hockey fan.
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(Update: I originally mistakenly removed the last game instead of the first game in Columbus as part of the tie breaking procedure. This does not change the positional outcome, however, I have fixed the story to reflect this change – DR)

The New York Rangers win over the Philadelphia not only eliminated the Flyers from an appearance in the Playoffs, it also locked the Blueshirts into the first Wild Card position and set up a likely matchup against the Montreal Canadiens in the first round. Thanks to the league’s tie-breaking procedure, the Rangers, with three games remaining, can finish with a maximum of 106 points in the Metropolitan division. The Columbus Blue Jackets currently sit in the third spot in the Metro, with that same 106 points with four games remaining. Should the Rangers win out in regulation or OT and Columbus lose out in regulation, the first tie-breaker would be Regulation/Overtime Wins (ROW). That would again leave the two teams tied with 47 ROW.

Now things get a little confusing. According to the league:

“If two clubs are tied, and have not played an equal number of home games against each other, points earned in the first game played in the city that had the extra game shall not be included.”

Columbus has won three of the five match-ups between the two teams, however, they played three at Nationwide Arena in Columbus and two at Madison Square Garden (MSG). Dropping the first game in Columbus, a 4-2 Columbus victory, leaves both teams capturing two wins in regulation a piece in the remaining head-to-head match-ups, obtaining four points each for the second tie-breaker.

The final method for breaking ties in the NHL is goal differential. Here, Columbus (+59) clearly edges out the Rangers (+39). While it is still technically possible that the Rangers could close this 20 goal gap, they would have to win their remaining three games by scoring three goals more per game than their opponents on average (+9) while Columbus would have to lose their remaining four games by three goals per game less than their opponents on average (-12) to do so.

With the teams trailing the Rangers in the standings unable to pass them, no matter how the season concludes, the Rangers will not pass the Blue Jackets, nor can any team trailing them earn more points in the standings.

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