The New York Rangers were the last team to be “eliminated” from the 2014 playoffs. They’re now the first team to officially make the 2015 postseason.
With their 5-1 win against the Ottawa Senators and the Anaheim Ducks’ comeback OT victory against the Boston Bruins in the books, the Rangers clinched their playoff spot on Thursday night.
Update: The Montreal Canadiens and Tampa Bay Lightning failed to clinch spots tonight, so only the Rangers did it.
Thursday presented one of those classic “Harvard Beats Yale 29-29” situations: who do you really deem the “winners” of an Arizona Coyotes – Buffalo Sabres game?
OK, in a literal sense, the Coyotes beat the Sabres 4-3 in OT.
Considering the tanking scenario, Buffalo really “wins” by generating one fewer standings point. Really, though, the Edmonton Oilers might be the “winners” in that the Sabres forced this contest to go to overtime with a late Brian Gionta goal.
Either way, it was an odd scene in which beat reporters were passing along notes about fans cheering for both Sabres and Coyotes goals in Buffalo.
Observe the ovation for Sam Gagner’s winning goal:
Here is how the race to the bottom looks now:
30. Buffalo – 48 points, eight games left
29. Arizona – 54 points, seven games left
28. Edmonton – 55 points, eight games left
Realistically, it’s probably just a battle for second-to-last, as it’s hard to imagine Buffalo winning enough to sabotage getting the best odds in the draft lottery. The good news for the Oilers is that Arizona and Buffalo face off again in Arizona on Monday.
Like a midnight showing of “The Room,” one gets the feeling that hockey fans will enjoy watching that next contest in a very sardonic sort of way …
Expect a new set of hamburger jokes tonight (some of the cringe-inducing variety*), as Ottawa Senators phenom Andrew Hammond’s storybook season hit a bump in the road named the New York Rangers.
At the moment, the Rangers are up 5-1, and that was enough for “The Hamburglar” to get pulled from the Senators’ net. (At least he’s not alone tonight.)
Hammond allowed five goals on 22 shots before getting taken out late in the second period. Perhaps seeing Tanner Glass score against Hammond was the last straw?
Chris Driedger took over for Hammond. The 20-year-old is seeing his first night of NHL action in relief.
Unfortunately, his last name is nowhere near as friendly to nicknaming. Maybe a Darren Dreger reference or two?
Update: The Rangers ended up winning 5-1, while this disturbing image hangs over Ottawa’s season:
* – Raises hand.