The New York Rangers have been playing great hockey at MSG, but the struggles away from the Garden ice are troubling.
In an 82-game season, road games are essential for success. The New York Rangers have struggled mightily away from Madison Square Garden this season and that could lead to problems has the team heads into the new year.
David Quinn has preached effort and consistency through the season. The Blueshirts have been all of that on home ice, but they have not had the same success in the road.
Their 3-7-2 road record is only better than the New Jersey Devils (2-9-1) and the St. Louis Blues (2-5-2). They are tied in road wins with the Ottawa Senators (3-8-1) whom the Rangers lost to 3-0 on Thursday night in Ottawa. The Blueshirts are tied for 29th in the NHL in road wins and that’s going to make a potential playoff push difficult.
The young team has a lot of learning to do to be a complete hockey team, and injuries have not helped the situation. The Rangers have five starting players injured currently. The team needs to find ways to finish games on the road or they run the risk of wasting their strong performances at home.
With December approaching, the team will be away from MSG only six times. Games in Montreal, Florida, Tampa Bay, Toronto, Nashville, and St. Louis are all tough games. All of these teams with the exception of Florida have a .500 or better home record right now.
The team will play 23 road games beginning January 2019. The Rangers will have to find a way to play better road hockey if they want any chance of making the playoffs. The responsibility is shared between the players and the coaches.
The veteran players are going to need to carry the kids and help them on the fly. Simple hockey will need to be played for the team to find wins in tough situations. Games will get harder to win as April approaches. Players such as Lias Andersson, Brett Howden, and Neal Pionk, who have led the way so far this season, will have to pick up the pace to help the Rangers change their road losing ways.
Their toughest stretch of road games will be between Mar. 11 and Mar. 16 where the Blueshirts will play four games in six nights against Edmonton, Vancouver, and back-to-back contests at Calgary and Minnesota. Hopefully, by that time the team will be playing stronger games on the road and have a little cushion heading towards April and the playoffs.
The Rangers do have a slight advantage that should help them as some of the road games will take place in New Jersey and Brooklyn/Long Island. Tough places to play, but the team does get plenty of fan support. The disadvantage is the Rangers only have three of these such games remaining against those teams.
Of course, this is all contingent on the Rangers continuing their superb play at home. If that should change the team will be talking about the 2019-20 season by the trade deadline in February. Just as they were doing last February when the team was all but eliminated at the trade deadline.