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Rangers clinch Atlantic, East’s top seed

New Jersey Devils v New York Rangers

NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 27: Ryan McDonagh #27 of the New York Rangers congratulates Henrik Lundqvist #30 of the New York Rangers on his 2-0 shutout against the New Jersey Devils at Madison Square Garden on February 27, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Bruce Bennett

The race to “win” the East’s eighth seed is becoming quite the comedy of errors, with the Washington Capitals, Buffalo Sabres and maybe even Florida Panthers trying to lose less than the other teams. Whoever ends up in that spot better get their act together, too, because they’re now guaranteed a match against the feisty and focused New York Rangers.

John Tortorella’s gang clinched the Atlantic Division - and with that, the No. 1 spot in the Eastern Conference - by beating the Philadelphia Flyers 5-3.

The game began very ugly for Ilya Bryzgalov and the rest of the team as the Rangers went into the first intermission with a 4-0 lead. Few leads are safe against the Flyers - even as great as New York can be at stopping opposing offenses - so things evened out, but not enough to keep Henrik Lundqvist from winning his 39th game of 2011-12.

This marks the Rangers’ first division title since they locked one up in 1994, a year that might be important to a handful of fans. (Just throwing it out there.) Speaking of which, this earlier post comparing this team to the last Stanley Cup-winning, Mark Messier-powered bunch might hold a little more water today.

Of course, New York still has a way to go before we can watch Ryan Callahan spazz out with the Cup like Messier did in those great clips.