by Patrick Hoffman on 03/09/10 at 04:24 PM ET
I was born in 1983 and was a New York Ranger fan from the very beginning. I attended my first game at Madison Square Garden on February 14, 1988 when the Blueshirts took on the New York Islanders. I may have been only five years old but I could tell how tough the Rangers made it on opposing teams on their ice.
It had been that way for a while where the Blueshirts had a favorable home ice record. This season - not so much. They are currently only 14-15-6 on the Garden ice and being that they are the Rangers, that record has a chance to get worse.
Good friend of the blog Nicholas Montemagno at Blueshirt Banter posted a great blog on the subject which you can find here. Here’s some of what Nicholas had to say:
14-15-6 is the New York Rangers record while playing in front of their home crowd at Madison Square Garden this season. Below .500 while playing in the World’s Most Famous Arena. Below .500 while playing before some of the most passionate hockey fans here in the United States. It goes without saying that the Blueshirts have no excuses for the drought on home ice in 2009-10, in fact, the Rangers are the one of the only teams in the Eastern Conference, besides the Toronto Maple Leafs, that have such a horrific record at home. That is ironic since Toronto and New York are the number one and number two rated hockey markets in the National Hockey League.
When you put it that way, the Rangers have really fallen off at MSG, which is a shame considering the team (mainly GM Glen Sather) has let down some of the fans in other ways.
Nicholas believes there are several different explanations including:
There could be several explanations for the Rangers failure while playing at MSG. The first and most obvious that comes to mind is pressure. This crowd may be passionate, but along with passion comes honesty, and they, by all means, do not hold back from letting this team know how they feel. As we saw yesterday, they are not even afraid to let the organization know how they feel. That could definitely destroy the self-esteem of these players, but at the same time, they should use it as momentum. They are “professionals” after all.
The other factor, that many do not take into account, is the fact that opponents look forward to playing at Madison Square Garden. Now I am going to have to put you in the player’s mind for a moment in order for you to understand this. Picture yourself as a rookie looking for an opportunity to remain in the lineup. You enter MSG, the atmosphere is electric and somehow you have the ability to silence 18,200 screaming maniacs with just one shot, hit, or altercation. To me, that is pretty damn motivational and a meaningful way to get your coach’s attention.
As someone that has attended many Ranger games as a season ticket holder with my father, I agree with the above. Going into the game, no matter what the team’s record is, Ranger fans are pumped up and electric, awaiting that big first goal and big save to get the game going. However, one bad play, penalty, or goals against changes drastically changes the atmosphere.
However, Nicholas points out that things can be different:
With that being said, why don’t the Rangers look at it the opposite way? With just one shot, hit, or altercation, you could bring a packed house to their feet and raise the noise level tremendously.
So what do you folks think? What does this team need to do to be successful on home ice?
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Patrick has a tremendous passion for hockey. Besides covering the Rangers and the NHL for Kukla's Korner, you can also find Patrick's work over at Sportsnet.ca, The Red Light District Hockey Blog, NHL Home Ice, and Liam Maguire's Ultimate Hockey web site.
Prior to writing for the above mentioned outlets, you could find Patrick's musings at hockey web sites/outlets such as TheHockeyNews.com, TheFourthPeriod.com, Spector's Hockey, Hokeja Vestnesis, Blueshirt Bulletin, SNYRangersBlog.com and many more.
For questions, comments and hip checks, feel free to e-mail Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org.