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New York Rangers: Early Season Home Games Good or Bad for the Team?

February 21st, 2013 at 2:54 PM
By PJ Foti

'Rangers Vs. Carolina Hurricanes 1/27/10, Madison Square Garden' photo (c) 2010, Bari D - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

After tonight's game in Ottawa against the Senators, the Rangers will have completed a third of their 2013 NHL season. Most of that has been on home ice, so it will be interesting to see how the team responds to its first "real" road trip.

You may be asking what exactly we mean by that, because they've gone on the road for a few games this season.

Well, this road trip consists of two games not in the New York City area. They've traveled to Boston, Philadelphia and Boston again, on separate occasions, all of which were surrounded by games at Madison Square Garden. They've had back-to-back road games only once this season — the first game being in Tampa Bay, the second in New Jersey.

That means, the game against the Devils was close enough to home where the Rangers were able to return home and use their own practice facility before taking a short train ride down from Penn Station to the Prudential Center.

So far, the Rangers have played five games on the road versus 10 games at home. In the 10 home games, they've claimed 13 of their 17 points on the year.

“Yeah, I guess it’s great to always play at home to get started and get comfortable, it’s easier to start at home and get used to everyone and playing the systems,” Rangers defenseman Matt Gilroy said. “Maybe we’re spoiled. On the road, it can be hard, you’re tired, the travel, especially how many games back to back. I think it was good we started at home.

This road trip, features a game in Ottawa, followed by a game in Montreal before the team returns home.

A two-game road trip isn't long, but maybe it will give the guys a chance to bond, something Ranger newcomer Jeff Halpern says is missed with this year's schedule.

“Yeah, especially just nights out with the guys,” Halpern said. “It gives you a chance to hang out away from the rink. We’re able to go to dinner in different cities we go in, that’s a good way to get to know each other. Sometimes you have extended time on the road, it’s a good way to build friendships and build relationships. I think the way this year’s going, I don’t think we’re going to have much time for any of that, playing back to back or every other night and there’s not going to be those long West Coast swings.”

Gilroy somewhat agreed with Halpern, but just felt the lockout messed up more than the team's ability to bond.

“I think a lot was missing,” Gilroy added when asked if the Rangers have missed the team bonding that comes from extended road trips. “No exhibition games. It was the same team with a few new guys but everyone is getting used to it again. I think no training camp is a little bit of an adjustment for everyone."

Tonight, we'll see how the team responds to being on the road. Hopefully it goes well as the team finishes the year with 11 of 17 on the road, including a stretch of eight of 11 from March 26-April 8.

New York Currently sits ninth in the Eastern Conference, but two wins on the road trip could put them into fifth.

Tags: Hockey, Jeff Halpern, Matt Gilroy, New York, New York Rangers, NHL, Ottawa, Penn Station, Prudential Center

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