Rangers defenseman Ryan Lindgren (55) reacts after scoring against the...

Rangers defenseman Ryan Lindgren (55) reacts after scoring against the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday, Nov. 21, 2021.  Credit: Noah K. Murray

Four years after "The Letter,’’ when the Rangers broke the news to their fans in February 2018 that the time had come for the team to rebuild, the Blueshirts now stand on the cusp of making the playoffs for the first time in five seasons.

As they prepared to host the Detroit Red Wings Thursday night, the Rangers were comfortably in a playoff spot with 34 games to go, third in the Metropolitan Division with 66 points, 16 ahead of Detroit, which was the first team out in the Eastern Conference wild-card race.

So, for the young players who have never played in the playoffs and have only known the Rangers as a rebuilding team, the likelihood of playing in the postseason this spring is starting to get real.

"I just think it's exciting, just having that chance to hopefully be in the playoffs,’’ defenseman Ryan Lindgren said Wednesday. "The last two years, obviously, we came up a little short. But I think we're just all excited . . . We know we've been playing well this year and we’ve got to make sure that we keep that going. But it's definitely exciting to play meaningful games.’’

Lindgren, 24, was part of the beginning of the rebuild, when he was acquired in a trade with the Bruins on Feb. 25, 2018, in the package the Rangers got for Rick Nash. He came along with a first-round pick that summer (which was dealt to Ottawa at the draft so the Rangers could move up to select K’Andre Miller), along with a seventh-round pick in 2019 and forwards Ryan Spooner (who was later traded to Edmonton for Ryan Strome) and Matt Beleskey.

Lindgren is now half of the Rangers’ top defense pair, with Norris Trophy winner Adam Fox (who turned 24 Thursday). The two, who are roommates, have known each other since their days in the U.S. National Team Development Program, been partners since Lindgren was called up a month into the 2019-20 season, and have grown up in the NHL together.

Third-line center Filip Chytil was the second of two first-round picks the Rangers made in 2017 and made the team out of training camp in 2018 as a 19-year-old. He is in his fourth season in the NHL and is looking forward to playing his first Stanley Cup playoff games this spring.

"I'm very excited that you can see we finally have a big chance to make the playoffs, to play big hockey,’’ Chytil said. "In the second half [of this season] we play a lot of games against our division teams, so it's going to be a little [like] preparing for the playoffs. I'm very excited about it and can't wait.’’

The Rangers do indeed have a lot of intradivision games remaining. They have all four games still to play against Pittsburgh, the current Metro points leader, and three more with Carolina, which is currently second in the division. They have two home games — the first of which is next Thursday — against Washington, which is fourth in the division and holds the first wild-card playoff position.

They also have three games each left against the rival Islanders and Devils, and two more against the Philadelphia Flyers, who are on the outside of the playoff race looking in.

But reaching the goal is so close now, and Lindgren said the Rangers aren’t about to ease off the gas pedal.

"We know what we’ve got to do, and yeah, obviously our goal at the beginning of the year is to make playoffs and make a push for the Stanley Cup,’’ he said. "So we're just taking it game by game, and trying to try to build up the wins, for sure.’’

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