UPDATED BY TAMPA,S 3-2 WIN OVER COLUMBUS FRIDAY NIGHT – Having clinched second place in the Metropolitan Division with their Thursday night win over the Buffalo Sabres, the New York Rangers are expected to start Cam Talbot in goal Saturday night against the Canadiens at the Bell Centre. They will also rest team MVP Ryan McDonagh who has been playing with a shoulder injury.
Considering the fact that the Canadiens couldn’t get past a rookie-laden Islander lineup Thursday, the impact of the Ranger moves may have little bearing on the final result. And it shouldn’t be forgotten that Cam Talbot’s first career shutout came at the Bell Centre back in November. The Rangers won the game 1-0.
Going into Thursday’s Islander game, the Canadiens were in the driver’s seat in their quest of taking home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Their no-show combined withTampa’s win over Philadelphia has moved the Lightning over to the driver’s seat and made the Canadiens passengers in the race. If Tampa wins it’s last two games including Friday night’s game against Columbus, they would edge the Canadiens out no matter what they do against New York Saturday.
Tampa is playing Columbus at home Friday. Columbus still has a shot at knocking off Philadelphia for 3rd in the Metro Division, so expect them to put up a fight.
Here are the possibilities –
….If Tampa beats Columbus and Washington – or if Tampa splits it’s two remaining games and Canadiens lose – Tampa takes second.
….If Tampa loses both of it’s games, the Canadiens would finish second and have home ice advantage.
….If the Canadiens win and Tampa takes only 3 of the possible 4 points; the teams would be tied at 100 points and the Canadiens would win the tiebreaker based on Regulation & Overtime Wins.
….If Tampa loses to Columbus Friday and the Canadiens get a single point against the Rangers, they would take second place with the tie breaker.