Buffalo Sabres v New York Rangers

Rangers clinch Metropolitan Division’s No. 2 spot, home-ice advantage in first round


The New York Rangers have come a long way from their challenging nine-game opening road trip. With their regulation win and the Philadelphia Flyers’ regulation loss on Thursday, they’ve now claimed the second spot in the Metropolitan Division (and the first-round series home-ice advantage that comes with it).

Not bad for a team that seemed aimless at times this season. They can now rest on their laurels in their final game of the season on Saturday after only losing four games (three in regulation) since March 18 (going 10-2-1 in that span).

Their first-round opponent hasn’t been settled yet and their preference might be a matter of opinion.

If it ends up being the Philadelphia Flyers, there are pros and cons. The positive side for the Rangers is that they’ve won eight straight games against the Flyers at Madison Square Garden. The bad news is that the Flyers employ a fellow named Claude Giroux.

With apologies to rising star Ryan Johansen, the Columbus Blue Jackets don’t have a marquee star at Giroux’s level (yet). They’re still a dangerous, pesky team that won both of their games at MSG, however.

Feel free to battle it out regarding the Rangers’ ideal opponent in the comments, but the one certainty is that they’ll begin the playoffs in the Big Apple thanks in part to their continued success on Thursday.

Teuvo time: Teravainen to open with Toews, Hossa

2015 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Six
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Teuvo Teravainen has played both center and right wing over the course of his brief NHL career.

Now, he’s got a new position — left wing — and a pair of shiny new linemates to boot.

Teravainen will open the year playing alongside captain Jonathan Toews and right wing Marian Hossa, per the Sun-Times.

The move could be a boon for the young Finn. Several ex-Chicago wingers thrived playing alongside Toews and Hossa, most notably Brandon Saad and Patrick Sharp.

It’ll be interesting to see what kind of production Teravainen, who just turned 21 last month, can manufacture on Chicago’s top line. His numbers from last year weren’t spectacular (nine points in 34 games), but he did a solid job of racking up points en route to the Stanley Cup, with 10 in 18 games.

It’ll also be interesting to see how long he sticks with Toews and Hossa.

Head coach Joel Quenneville has been known as a frequent user of the line blender, often switching up his combos at at moment’s notice.

That said, Quenneville is hoping to find some stability with this new-look group.

“[Teuvo will] play there to start the season,” he said. “Hopefully, all year.”

‘Great story’ Janmark surprises, makes Dallas roster

Brian Elliott, Mattias Janmark-Nylen
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Pretty cool story out of Texas, where Mattias Janmark, the 22-year-old rookie that’s played a grand total of nine games in North America, has defied the odds to make the Stars’ opening-night roster.

“It’s a great story,” Dallas GM Jim Nill said, per the Morning News. “We really only planned to have him here for maybe two preseason games and then send him back. But he just kept being one of the best players out there, and he changed our minds.

“It’s a great example of what you can do if you just play hard.”

Nill acquired Janmark, 22, from Detroit at last year’s deadline as part of the Erik Cole trade. Nill was familiar with the Swedish forward from his time with the Wings — he was part of the front office team that drafted Janmark in ’13 — but didn’t think the deal would pay such immediate dividends.

As for Janmark, he didn’t even think he’d be in North America this year.

He has a contract with SHL club Frolunda, where he scored 36 points in 55 games last year. Given he’s barely played in the AHL — a few games with Grand Rapids, a few with Texas — Janmark figured he’d be back in Europe this season.

His strong play in the exhibition season changed all that. Janmark beat out two of Dallas’ touted prospects — former AHL rookie of the year Curtis McKenzie, and ’12 first-rounder Radek Faksa — for a roster spot, and showed good chemistry with third-line center Cody Eakin.

Janmark also performed well on a line with Jason Spezza and Ales Hemsky.