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

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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.