Peter Laviolette send brutal announcement to Rangers about the 2024  first round draft opponent…

Rangers must at all costs stay away from this opponent in the first round.
Rangers need to avoid this first round opponent at all costs - Forever  Blueshirts: A site for New York Rangers fanatics

With just five games left in the regular season, the New York Rangers already know who they might play in the Stanley Cup playoffs first round. If you want to give the Buffalo Sabres a shot, the Blueshirts might play seven or perhaps eight teams when they kick off play on Saturday.

Four teams are fighting for third place and a sure postseason spot in the Metropolitan Division, where the Rangers need just four more points from the Carolina Hurricanes to secure first place.

With 83 points, tied with the Philadelphia Flyers who have one more game to play, the New York Islanders now occupy the second wild card slot in the Eastern Conference. In the meantime, each of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals has 82 points.

As the Detroit Red Wings (82 points) continue to lose, having gone 4-11-2 in their last 17 games, the team that finishes in third place will most certainly earn the final wild card. And in the parity-filled NHL of today, there is one team that the Rangers really need to stay away from, even though there is no such thing as an easy playoff opponent.

As the playoffs get closer, the Tampa Bay Lightning are playing really well. They have a points percentage of.821, second only to the Dallas Stars’.857, since March 1st.

Though they have each played 17 games and posted similar records of 12-4-1, it is safe to say that the Rangers and Hurricanes are tied for the most points (25) during that time. Therefore, if the Lightning were writing this, they would probably also be trying to avoid the Blueshirts in the opening round.

Having said that, how can the Rangers escape facing Tampa in the first round of the playoffs? The Lightning or the potent Toronto Maple Leafs will draw the first wild card, so winning the Metropolitan does not ensure it. New York needs to defeat the Boston Bruins to win the Eastern Conference and advance to play the second wild card winner in order to avoid either of those teams.
With the same number of games played, the Rangers lead the Bruins by three points (108 to 105). Of course, if the Blueshirts drop a few straight games, this edge might swiftly disappear. But New York hasn’t dropped two straight regular games since late January (1/18 vs. Vegas and 1/20 vs. LA), and they don’t appear to be You may be wondering at this point, “What’s the big deal?” It’s the postseason, and defeating your opponent is essential to taking home the Stanley Cup.New York Rangers look to course correct against Avalanche - Forever  Blueshirts: A site for New York Rangers fanatics

That’s why the Rangers should stay away from the Lightning. Numerous analysts dismissed Tampa Bay as too old and with essentially a closed Stanley Cup window before the season even began. They were starting the season 10-10-5, proving those skeptics wrong.

This only made them angrier, and as the season progressed, Tampa’s best players started elevating their game. As everyone is enamored with Edmonton’s Connor McDavid (128 points) and Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon (131 points), it’s Nikita Kucherov (133 points) leading the NHL in scoring.

“Window closing?” Bruins GM Don Sweeney told the Athletic. “That is dangerous for anyone to be saying to that group!”

The last time the Rangers played the Lightning, they were manhandled by Kucherov and Brayden Point, losing 6-3. Despite, the Blueshirts holding a winning record in the season series (2-1-0), this is not an opponent a Cup hopeful wants to see in the opening round.

Toronto fell to the Florida Panthers in five games in the second round. Although the Panthers went on to the Stanley Cup Final, they were taken out in five games by the Vegas Golden Knights, who beat the Winnipeg Jets in as many games to open the playoffs.

No one has a crystal ball to predict the future, but playing Tampa to start the playoffs is a bad idea. They are a team that just grinds an opponent down to the bone, so even if you win, you lose.

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