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Rangers to face Capitals in opening round

by Staff Writer / New York Rangers
Ryan Callahan, Derek Morris and the rest of the Rangers don't need to beat the Flyers on Sunday to finish in seventth.

Rangers Top Flyers, Reach Playoffs
Lucky Fans Take the Blueshirts Home

The Rangers don't need to worry too much about the playoff implications of Sunday's regular-season finale at Philadelphia.

In fact, they don't have to worry at all.

As a result of Montreal's 3-1 loss to Pittsburgh at the Bell Centre on Saturday night, the Blueshirts are assured of finishing seventh and playing the second-seeded Washington Capitals when the Stanley Cup playoffs open  in Washington next week.

The Rangers and Canadiens are now tied at 93 points, but the Rangers already own the tiebreaker, and Montreal has no more games to play.

“We’re going to try and win Sunday, and then we’re going to go to work and get ready for the playoffs,” said Rangers head coach John Tortorella. “We’ve got a lot of work to do, and we need to improve in all areas. But it’s good to be in.”

The first-round matchup against superstar Alex Ovechkin and the offensively-talented Caps will be a challenge, but will offer plenty of excitement for New York fans, restoring a playoff rivalry from the past.

The Rangers have not faced Washington since their run to the Stanley Cup in 1994, when they dispatched the Caps in a five-game second round series that ended at MSG. Ironically, that Washington team was coached by current Rangers assistant general manager and assistant coach Jim Schoenfeld.

This will be the fifth playoff series between the Rangers and Washington since the Caps entered the NHL in 1974. The Rangers won the meetings in 1986 and 1994, while Washington won playoff series in 1990 and 1991.

Thursday's win over Philadelphia at home marked the second time in three years that the Rangers have clinched a playoff berth in the regular-season home finale. On April 7, 2007, they beat Montreal  at MSG to secure a postseason ticket in what was also the 81st game of the season.
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