Jan 24, 2017; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Montreal Canadiens forward Andrew Shaw (65) reacts with forward Sven Andrighetto (42) after scoring a goal against the Calgary Flames during the first period at the Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

Play in the Atlantic Bracket

Growing up, there was no Eastern Conference from my little kid point of view. Instead, the Waales Conference deployed two Divisions, the Patrick and the Adams.

The Stanley Cup Playoffs on the Wales side showcased two different brackets. Each division, the Patrick and Adams, brought four teams to the party. Not until the Conference finals did the victor of each fight it out.

In 1993, the powers that be scrapped it and went with a one through eight seeding in each conference, the Eastern and Western. Suddenly, as of a few seasons ago, we’ve come full circle and the first two rounds of the playoffs showcase a divisional bashing. 

However, there is one slight alteration.

Two Wild Cards in each conference can see inter-divisional play. This season, thanks to the Metropolitan’s success, the No. 1 Eastern Conference Wild Card will be slotted in with the Atlantic Division over the course of the first two rounds of the playoffs.

This is exactly where the New York Rangers want to find themselves come spring time.

Why fight it?

It’s clear that the Jackets, Caps and Pens are serious teams. Why look to overtake any of them and throw yourself into the most brutal portion of the tournament? 

Although tough to not come off as transparent, Alain Vigneault and Jeff Gorton need to play it smart with moves the rest of the way to ensure that the Rangers stay fourth in the Metro.

As it stands right now, the Blueshirts have a commanding nine-point lead over the second wild card — the Philadelphia Flyers and Boston Bruins.

As long as they maintain that lead, stay fourth in the Metro and keep an eye on making sure the Metro leader finishes better than the Atlantic leader, the Rangers will face the Atlantic Division champs in the first round of the playoffs.

Just take a glance at how easy the New York Islanders had it a season ago.

Robby Sabo is a co-founder, CEO and credentialed New York Jets content creator for Jets X-Factor - Jet X, which includes Sabo's Sessions (in-depth film breakdowns) and Sabo with the Jets. Host: Underdog Jets Podcast with Wayne Chrebet and Sabo Radio. Member: Pro Football Writers of America. Coach: Port Jervis (NY) High School. Washed up strong safety and 400M runner. SEO: XL Media. Founder: Elite Sports NY - ESNY (Sold in 2020). SEO: XL Media. Email: robby.sabo[at]jetsxfactor.com