There are still details to be finalized regarding the NHL's return to finish the 2019-20 season amid the coronavirus pandemic, but the format has been agreed upon. And it includes the Rangers.
If the NHL hammers everything out, the Rangers will return to the ice against the Carolina Hurricanes in a best-of-five opening round playoff series with a chance to advance from the round of 24 to the round of 16 -- where the top four seeds in each conference will be waiting.
The above could be bad news for the Hurricanes, who were one of only two teams (with the Tampa Bay Lightning being the other) to vote against the 24-team playoff format, according to Nick Kypreos.
While it's fair to believe the Hurricanes voted against the plan because it eliminates their automatic inclusion in the round of 16 and makes them play their way in, it's also fair to note that the Rangers picked the Hurricanes apart while sweeping their four-game series earlier this season. Perhaps that also gave Carolina some pause.
The Rangers outscored the Hurricanes 17-9 in their four victories earlier this season, with two of them coming in November, one coming in December, and one coming in February.
During New York's four wins against the Hurricanes, Henrik Lundqvist was dominant in three of them, stopping 125 of 132 total shots.
Rookie Igor Shesterkin started the other game against the Canes, stopping 27 of 29 shots in a 5-2 win on Feb. 21.
While it's unclear which direction the Rangers will go in nets against Carolina if the season resumes (they also have the option of turning to Alexandar Georgiev), the expectation is that Chris Kreider -- who suffered a broken foot in March -- will be ready to go.
Add a healthy Kreider to the duo of Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad, and the Rangers become a formidable foe for any team in a five-game series -- especially one they so thoroughly dominated during the regular season.
Where the season resumes is still in question, but the expectation has been that the NHL would use "hubs" instead of returning teams to their home arenas.
New York, with 79 points (good for 10th in the Eastern Conference and tied for 16th overall in the NHL), was two points back of the Hurricanes and Columbus Blue Jackets for the Wild Card spots in the Eastern Conference when the season was suspended.