Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Blueshirts Want to Keep Climbing

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Blueshirts Want to Keep Climbing

Article excerpt

GREENBURGH, N.Y. - The Rangers may not find out their first- round playoff opponent until Sunday night, after the Senators and Bruins play their makeup game in Boston.

"The most important thing is we clinched," defenseman Anton Stralman said. "At the same time, you want to get as high as you can in the standings and, potentially down the road, maybe get home advantage."

The only certainty for the Rangers is two more points in their season-finale this afternoon against the Devils at Madison Square Garden would mean finishing no lower than the Eastern Conference's seventh seed.

And that means avoiding the top-seeded Penguins and a returning Sidney Crosby.

The Rangers can finish no higher than sixth, which would bring their fourth playoff series against the Capitals in five years. Finishing seventh would mean facing either the Bruins or Canadiens.

"It doesn't matter," coach John Tortorella said of the eventual playoff opponent. "That's why I think [today's] game is important for us, to keep on playing good hockey and just bring it right into the playoffs no matter who we meet."

The Rangers are 9-3-1 in April and 8-3-1 since acquiring rugged left wing Ryane Clowe from the Sharks and center Derick Brassard and defenseman John Moore from the Blue Jackets for Marian Gaborik.

But Clowe's status is uncertain after he was helped from the ice in the second period of the Rangers' playoff-clinching, 4-3 overtime win at Carolina on Thursday night. Clowe appeared to hurt his right leg but also took an elbow to the head and the Rangers are not specifying his injury.

He was unable to practice Friday and will not dress against the Devils.

"I'm projecting him to be a pretty important playoff player for us," Tortorella said.

If not, though, Derek Dorsett, the third ex-Blue Jacket acquired for Gaborik, may bring some of the physicality and play along the boards the Rangers will lose with Clowe out.

Dorsett, an on-ice agitator with no off switch, has been out since fracturing his clavicle on March 7. But Dorsett said Friday he is scheduled to take a CT scan that may clear him for contact drills in practice, the final step toward returning to the lineup. …

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