Why In the World Do the New York Rangers Shockingly Struggle at MSG?
Mar 22, 2017; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh (27) reacts as he skates off the ice after losing to the New York Islanders at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers are terrible at Madison Square Garden. It’s an undeniable fact. Why, though, are they so terrible at home?

The New York Rangers have been atrocious at home lately. In fact, they haven’t won a game in their building in over a month. Since their 2-1 home win over the Washington Capitals on Feb. 19, the team has lost their last seven games at the Garden, compiling a record of 0-5-2 during that span.

It is tough to explain the Rangers struggles at home as of late. This is a team that has one of the most loyal and diehard fanbases in New York sports and the entire National Hockey League. Rangerstown is full of passionate fans who come to games wanting nothing more than to loudly cheer on their boys in blue.

However, the Rangers struggle to feed off the energy from the home crowd especially late in games when they are looking for that tying goal.

Maybe it’s the pressure of playing in front of the crowd at The World’s Most Famous Arena. For some reason, whenever the Rangers play on the road, they seem to play with much more confidence, especially on offense where they are not afraid to shoot the puck. At home, the team tends to spend too much time passing the puck around looking for that perfect shot, especially on the power play.

Another reason might be opposing teams being motivated to play at the Garden. While this tends to be more of an issue with the New York Knicks, visiting players (regardless of the sport) have a tendency to rise to the occasion playing at the Garden. Whether they are coming in to play the Rangers or Knicks, opponents know the Garden is always the center of attention, packed with celebrities in attendance, and want to make the most of their one or two visits there each year.

The other possible reason for the Blueshirts struggles at home could be overconfidence and lack of focus. The Rangers have played much of their home games over the past month after crucial road wins or an incredible road trip. Maybe the team gets overconfident playing in front of the Garden faithful, thinking the energy of their fans will drive them to victory and they underestimate opponents.

The Rangers stellar road play in recent weeks has clearly bailed them out of their home struggles. In fact, if it weren’t for how well they’ve been playing away from home, this team could very well be on the outside of the playoff picture looking in. However, the Rangers can’t expect their hot streak on the road to last forever and need to take a page out of Under Armour’s book and learn how to “Protect Their House”.

We can go on about how the Rangers are in the perfect spot at fourth in the Metro Division. Yes, they would avoid playing any of the powerhouse team’s in their division until the Eastern Conference Finals (if they even make it that far) and would start the playoffs playing on the road where they have been playing their best hockey as of late. Yet, anybody who thinks the Blueshirts can win like this on the road once the postseason begins is fooling themselves.

It is tough to tell exactly what the Rangers need to do to fix their home woes. Maybe they should start having team practices with loud noises in the background that simulate a raucous home crowd. Maybe they should start wearing their road whites (which used to be home whites) at home.

One thing is certain. If the Rangers want to avoid an early exit from the playoffs for the second straight year, they better start figuring out how to win games at home.

1 COMMENT

  1. IMHO, the Rangers struggle at home, in part, because the Garden crowd has become and incredibly cynical one. The Rangers feel the pressure of playing in front of their home fans. Afraid to make the wrong pass, especially on the power play, for fear of moans and groans from the “faithful”. They don’t have that pressure on the road. The Garden crowd has noticeably changed over the years. Once packed with knowledgable patrons, especially in the blues, the fanbase that can afford tickets are a cynical, know it all bunch (of all ages) that care more about the food choices than the game. Was at a conference final game against Tampa Bay a few years ago, I believe Game Two. Rangers had won Game One and were only three wins away from the SC Finals but the vast majority of fans around me acted as though the Rangers were the biggest bums around. Rangers lost that game, I believe 6-2, and even in the third period down by four goals the high definition screen above the ice showed fans acting like morons, thrilled to act a fool because they were on the screen, as though they were up 6-2 and not about to lose. Years ago, the place would have been a morgue down 6-2, especially in a big playoff game. People change, NY fans have changed and times change.