The New York Rangers’ playoffs hopes simply took an enormous hit


With a COVID-19-related realignment of the NHL, the New York Rangers’ chances of making the playoffs had a huge hit

Just when it looked like the balance of power in the Metropolitan Division would shift and give the New York Rangers hope of a possible playoff appearance, it looks like the NHL is realigning and the Blueshirts will be in the toughest division the USA land ice hockey.

Greg Wyshynski reported it first, Elliotte Friedman confirmed it. This is what the 2020-21 NHL will look like:

East department:

  • New York Rangers
  • Boston Bruins
  • Buffalo Sabers
  • Carolina Hurricanes
  • New Jersey Devils
  • New York Islanders
  • Philadelphia Flyer
  • Washington Capitals

Canadian Department:

  • Calgary Flames
  • Edmonton Oilers
  • Montreal Canadiens
  • Ottawa Senators
  • Toronto Maple Leafs
  • Vancouver Canucks
  • Winnipeg Jets

Central Department:

  • Chicago Blackhawks
  • Columbus Blue Jackets
  • Detroit Red Wing
  • Florida panthers
  • Nashville Predators,
  • Pittsburgh penguins
  • St. Louis Blues
  • Tampa Bay Lightning

West Division:

  • Anaheim Duck
  • Arizona Coyotes
  • Colorado avalanche
  • Dallas Stars
  • Los Angeles Kings
  • Minnesota Wild
  • San Jose Sharks,
  • Vegas Golden Knights

How they compare

The difference in quality between these departments is amazing. Here are the percentage points for the four departments:

  • East Division: .593
  • Central department: .554
  • Canada Division: .541
  • West Division: .540

Eight teams in the NHL had a point percentage over 600. Three are in the east, three in the middle, two in the west and none in Canada. Five of the top 11 teams in the NHL are in the east.

Looking ahead to 2020-21, Buffalo is arguably one of the most improved teams in the NHL and could be considered a playoff contender in the Atlantic Division. The only team in the New East that could have been considered a playoff ban were the New Jersey Devils.

At the new headquarters, Detroit is terrible and teams like Columbus and Pittsburgh are in decline. The West has three of the worst teams in the NHL. There is not a single team in the Canadian division that finished with a percentage of 600 points. The best percentage belongs to Edmonton, whose .585 percentage was the twelfth best in the NHL.

It gets worse

Do you think that’s bad? It gets worse. At the moment it appears that in a 60 game season, teams will only play teams within their own divisions. That means eight or more games against teams in your division. Yes, Tampa can play against Detroit and Ottawa eight times. The Rangers are allowed to play against Boston and Washington eight times.

It will be great for rivalries, but the lack of balance in the makeup of this division is glaring. Be honest, this is the format in which the Rangers are screwed.

Can you fix it?

If the NHL uses the standard playoff format, it is completely unfair. That would get the top three teams in each division into the playoffs with two additional wildcard teams. The NHL must do away with this completely and try to make participation in the playoffs fair. How they do it will be difficult.

One solution would be to forget about geography and east-west orientation. Put the Canadian division in conference with the East. Put the central and western departments together. Then allow the top two teams in each division into the playoffs, and then select the wildcard teams from among the best of the others in their conference.

That won’t work that well either. The Rangers could finish fifth in the east, but lose the wild card because the team with fourth place in the Canada Division has a better record against weaker competition.

The only solution

The only answer is another extended postseason with a Stanley Cup qualifier round. Even in this scenario, it is possible that the worst teams in the East will be better than the playoff teams in the other divisions, but their records will be worst due to the level of competition. Would it be fairer to expand the pool beyond the top 24 teams?

A difficult situation

No matter how you see it, if this division of divisions is adopted, the Rangers will face a difficult season. You will play more games against better teams than the teams in other divisions. The only good news is that their cohorts in the east will be in the same boat.

Chalk it on another episode of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now it will be up to coach David Quinn and his players to see if they beat the odds and overcome the challenges that arise from the seemingly almost impossible opportunities. Can you do it? Absolutely. Just one more storyline that will make this season the most fascinating in franchise history.

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