Rangers not worried about how they made the playoffs
Teams aren’t asked how they qualified for the Stanley Cup playoffs, just if they reached the playoffs.
So the Rangers are not about to apologize for qualifying due to the Flames’ 1-0 shutout of the Devils Monday night.
“We’ve got the checkmark now,” head coach Alain Vigneault told reporters after the Rangers’ optional morning skate at the Garden Tuesday. “To be able to compete for the Cup, you have to get in. And to get in, it’s hard. Look at some of the teams who were in last year — Ottawa and [the Islanders] — young teams on the rise and then this year they don’t get in. It’s a challenge and we were able to [get in] because of our second-half push. Now we have the opportunity to challenge for the Cup, and we have the opportunity to finish as high as we can within our conference.”
The Rangers entered Tuesday night’s game against the Hurricanes with a 43-31-5 record, and will finish the regular season with a home game Thursday against the Sabres and at Montreal Saturday night. The playoffs are set to begin next Wednesday.
Kreider, McDonagh updates
Vigneault did not offer much in terms of an update on the conditions of Ryan McDonagh and Chris Kreider, both of whom skated Tuesday morning.
McDonagh suffered a shoulder injury in the waning seconds of the 3-1 over the Canucks on April 1 when he was checked awkwardly into the end boards by Alexandre Burrows. Kreider had surgery to repair a broken hand, and is expected to miss at least the first round.
“I asked [McDonagh] this morning how he was doing, and he said he was doing fine — day-to-day,” Vigneault said. “And [Kreider] obviously has a cast on, so he’s out indefinitely.”
Vigneault termed himself “50-50″ on whether he would dress McDonagh in any of the two remaining regular season games. The coach was also unsure if McDonagh would practice with the team Wednesday.
“He’s going to have to be 100 percent,” Vigneault said of playing McDonagh. “He should be, but I’m still 50-50 on it.”
Around the league …
» The Devils announced their team award winners Tuesday afternoon. Defenseman Andy Greene won the Unsung Hero Award, Ryan Carter was elected the Players’ Player and Jaromir Jagr won the team MVP award. It is the second honor for Jagr in a week, as the New Jersey chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association nominated him for the Bill Masterton Trophy last week. The awards presented Tuesday were voted on by the Devils.
» The New York chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association named Marc Staal the winner of the John Halligan Good Guy Award.
» Rangers first- and second-round playoff tickets go on sale to the public noon Friday through Ticketmaster outlets and the Rangers website. Fans are limited to four tickets per game.
» Jesper Fast drew into the lineup Tuesday night. Fast was called up from AHL Hartford Monday morning.
» The Canucks fired general manager Mike Gillis Tuesday afternoon.
Follow Rangers beat writer Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman.