Because I’m a rally-killer by nature, prone to spoiling whatever positive vibe that might be circulating within a room, I felt it was important to greet the Rangers with a cold splash of reality.
So my conversation with a few of them today went something like this: “Welcome back and congratulations on a fine road trip. Now a question: why are you so bad at home?”
OK, so maybe those weren’t the precise words used (I’m a rally-killer, but a tactful rally-killer), but it merits mentioning that the Rangers, for all that was accomplished on their western sojourn, now return to a place where they’ve won a meager two of their first six games. Is it the lighting? The music? Al Trautwig?
Actually, it’s you. OK, not YOU necessarily, but the Garden crowd as a whole that has expected great things thus far from their beloved team, but has yet to see them. It’s only natural. Maybe because they want to impress so badly at home, the players say they haven’t been as patient as they have been elsewhere. Moreover, the team’s captain said the fans’ constant cries for players to shoot haven’t fallen on deaf ears.
“It’s tough to say. You have to win some games at home. That’s the whole key,” Jaromir Jagr said. “But you have to show the fans that the patient game is effective, too. I understand that they want to see some goals, but I think on the road we’re more patient with the puck. If we didn’t see anything with the puck, we didn’t press.”
Naturally this becomes even more of a premium given that the Rangers face probably the best team in the NHL right now, the Buffalo Sabres, at the Garden tomorrow. Yes, that’s the same team that blitzed them 7-4 last month in Buffalo. But one would think the Rangers are a more cohesive team now than they were then.
Now if only they can find a neutral site…
A couple of other stray thoughts: