Push for the Playoffs: Rangers hoping to gain ground on surging Bruins

Push for the Playoffs will run every morning through the end of the 2020-21 NHL season. We’ll highlight the current playoff picture in both conferences, take a look at what the first-round matchups might look like, see who’s leading the race for the best odds in the draft lottery and more.

You can only play the schedule in front of you, so excuse the Rangers for peeking at the East Division standings and believing the playoffs are in reach.

After beating up on the Devils this week with a four-game sweep, which included a pair of Igor Shesterkin shutouts, New York sits four points behind the fourth-place Bruins. Boston, of course, has the all-important two games in-hand, but the Rangers’ upcoming schedule keeps the door open for a late push should the Bruins slip up.

After visiting the Islanders on Tuesday, the Rangers start a homestand that features a pair of two-game series against the Flyers and Sabres. These next two weeks is the time for David Quinn’s charges to make up ground and hope the red-hot Bruins stumble. New York’s final six games of the regular season feature two-game sets against the Islanders, Capitals, and Bruins. No easy tasks there to find your way into the playoffs.

“We’ve put ourselves in a good spot,” said Rangers forward Mika Zibanejad. “So we try to take it a game at a time, and it sounds very cliché but that’s all we can do. Just worry about the next game and try to get the two points and move on.”

[Your 2020-21 NHL on NBC TV schedule]

IF PLAYOFFS STARTED TODAY (sorted by points percentage)

EAST DIVISION
1. Capitals vs. 4. Bruins
2. Islanders vs. 3. Penguins

NORTH DIVISION
1. Maple Leafs vs. 4. Canadiens
2. Jets vs. 3. Oilers

WEST DIVISION
1. Avalanche vs. 4. Blues
2. Golden Knights vs. 3. Wild

CENTRAL DIVISION
1. Hurricanes vs. 4. Stars
2. Lightning vs. 3. Panthers

TODAY’S KEY GAMES
Hurricanes vs. Lightning, 7 p.m. ET
Red Wings vs. Stars, 7:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN livestream)
Blackhawks vs. Predators, 8 p.m. ET
Wild vs. Coyotes, 9 p.m. ET
Canadiens vs. Oilers 9 p.m. ET

PLAYOFF PERCENTAGES (via MoneyPuck)

Capitals – 97.5%
Penguins – 95.8%
Islanders – 90.2%
Bruins – 88.6%
Rangers – 27.6%
Flyers – 0.3%
Devils – 0%
Sabres – eliminated

PLAYOFF PERCENTAGES (via MoneyPuck)

Maple Leafs – 100%
Jets – 99.9%
Oilers – 99%
Canadiens – 76.3%
Flames – 19.8%
Canucks – 5%
Senators – 0%

PLAYOFF PERCENTAGES (via MoneyPuck)

Hurricanes – 100%
Lightning – 100%
Panthers – 100%
Stars – 60.8%
Predators – 28.5%
Blackhawks – 10.7%
Blue Jackets – 0%
Red Wings – 0%

PLAYOFF PERCENTAGES (via MoneyPuck)

Avalanche – 100%
Golden Knights – 100%
Wild – 99.99%
Coyotes – 45.9%
Blues – 33.4%
Kings – 10.8%
Sharks – 9.7%
Ducks – 0.2%

DRAFT LOTTERY PICTURE (via MoneyPuck)

Sabres – 17.1%
Ducks – 11.2%
Senators – 10.8%
Devils – 10.1%
Red Wings – 9.1%
Blue Jackets – 8.5%
Kings – 5.4%
Sharks – 5.4%
Canucks – 5.1%
Blues – 2.9%
Blackhawks – 2.7%
Flames – 2.7%
Flyers – 2.6%
Coyotes – 2.4%
Predators – 1.5%

ART ROSS TROPHY RACE
Connor McDavid, Oilers – 71 points
Leon Draisaitl, Oilers – 63
Patrick Kane, Blackhawks – 56
Auston Matthews, Maple Leafs – 54
Mitch Marner, Maple Leafs – 54
Brad Marchand, Bruins – 54

ROCKET RICHARD RACE
Auston Matthews, Maple Leafs – 33 goals
Mikko Rantanen, Avalanche – 26
Alex Ovechkin, Capitals – 24
Connor McDavid, Oilers – 23
Brad Marchand, Bruins – 23

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

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