Win and they're in. Lose ... well, they still can get in if that happens, but the New York Rangers are focused on the positives.
If the Rangers pick up at least a point Monday when they host the New Jersey Devils (7:30 p.m., NBCSN, TSN2), they'll become the first Eastern Conference team to clinch a Stanley Cup Playoff berth.
The Rangers still have to deal with the on-rushing Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers, but with both of those teams having the night off, a win would allow them to open up some breathing room atop the Eastern Conference.
All six games on the schedule Monday have huge playoff implications: Toronto Maple Leafs at Boston Bruins -- The slumping Bruins saw a 2-0 third-period lead evaporate against the Flyers on Saturday, but were able to hold for a 3-2 shootout win that allowed them to re-claim the Northeast Division lead. However, their lead on the Ottawa Senators is just one point, so a win Monday night could mean the difference between second place in the conference and seventh by the time they play again Thursday.
New Jersey Devils at New York Rangers (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN2) -- While the Rangers have their own playoff scenario, the Devils have playoff implications of their own to worry about. A win would pull New Jersey within five points of fourth-place Pittsburgh, and if they win in regulation, it'd be just six points behind the Rangers. They also can enlarge the gap on seventh-place Ottawa heading into Tuesday's game against the Senators at Scotiabank Place.
Buffalo Sabres at Tampa Bay Lightning -- The Sabres are desperate for points, and they can't let the Lightning play spoiler. Buffalo enters play No. 10 in the Eastern Conference, just two points behind eighth-place Washington, but with the Capitals also playing Monday; picking up a win is imperative for Buffalo.
Washington Capitals at Detroit Red Wings -- Playing the best home team in the League will be a tough match for the Capitals, but they still need the points in a big way. A win would allow them to cut into the five-point Southeast Division lead held by idle Florida, while at the same time doubling margin on ninth-place Winnipeg -- and possibly 10th-place Buffalo. A win by the Red Wings would allow them to leapfrog Nashville for fourth place in the Western Conference, while keeping alive their hope of catching St. Louis for the Central Division title.
Anaheim Ducks at San Jose Sharks (10 p.m. ET, NBCSN) -- The San Jose Sharks will enter the game ninth in the Western Conference and third in the Pacific Division. With a win, they'll leap to third in the conference and first in the Pacific. That's what happens when four teams in one division are separated by a single point. The Sharks also can get back into the West's top eight with an overtime/shootout loss; they would have 83 points in 72 games, moving them ahead of Phoenix and Colorado and into seventh place based on points percentage.
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