The Rangers took care of business with a playoff-clinching finishing kick of 10-3-1 that culminated with Saturday’s 4-0 Garden victory over the uninterested Devils in the season finale. Now, the next order of business will be Washington and Alex Ovechkin in the playoffs for the third straight season and fourth time in coach John Tortorella’s five years behind the New York bench — did someone say, a real rivalry? — after the Blueshirts secured sixth-place spot after the Senators loss to the Flyers last night. The series will begin in DC on Tuesday or Wednesday. “We wanted to get up to sixth,” said Brad Richards, who continued his [very] late-season revival with a pair of assists that sends him into the post-season with 11 points (5-6) in his last five games. “You never know what happens if you go deep in the playoffs. “If you start off in sixth you could get home ice depending on what else happens. You never know, but you want to keep plugging away and move up and work on your game.” The Rangers’ victory that ended hours before the Senators’ defeat had tangible and intangible rewards. It both guaranteed the Blueshirts would avoid the top-seeded Penguins in the first round while allowing the team go enter the tournament on a high note that it can use as a springboard. “I think we’re where we need to be,” Dan Girardi said. “Ever since we made those changes at the deadline, something has clicked. “There’s been more energy, and I think we’ve regained our identity of being a tough team to play against,” the alternate captain said, alluding to the acquisitions of Ryane Clowe, Derick Brassard and John Moore and the signing of Mats Zuccarello. “I’m happy with where we are. I think we feel confident as a group.” While the measure of importance the Blueshirts placed on winning the match was reflected by the decision to give Henrik Lundqvist his 14th straight start and 23rd in the last 24 games, the Devils went with Johan Hedberg in net rather than Martin Brodeur.
Rangers rip Devils, will face Capitals in first round of playoffs
New York Post | Apr 28