You could look at “the house” being Madison Square Garden. The Rangers home. A place where last year they couldn’t win a game to save their lives. Last year the Rangers were one of the best road teams in the league, but their ineptitude at home cost them a bad first round seed against the Caps who just are not a good matchup for us. That inability to win at home hurt the team in the playoffs as well, when the team couldn’t win games they had late leads in, and just plain couldn’t do what it took to get past the high octane Caps. This year the Rangers are just as good at home as they are on the road. That difference has rocketed the Rangers up the standings to tops in the East, a full 2 points ahead of Bawstun with all games in hand by the Brooins played. They are 2 points behind the scorching hot Red Wings, with 2 games in hand on Detroit.
The house, though, is also the area in front of the goal, the zone where all the dirty goals tend to be scored. The area in front of the net, and into the high slot area where teams try to funnel the puck to get scoring chances. The Rangers, for the most part, were outstanding in that area of the ice tonight. Forcing the vast majority of the shots outside of that area. While they did have some breakdowns, as inevitably happens, Henrik Lundqvist was there, earning every bit of his 6.5 million dollar a year salary.
It is the Rangers willingness to sacrifice their bodies to block shots while in the house that causes teams to think twice about shooting. The Jets were definitely passing up shots because they knew the shots would most likely be blocked. Limit those shots against, and you limit the oppositions ability to score goals. It’s a fairly simple formula to understand, but it’s taken the Rangers a while to get that through their heads.
Heading into the break it’s tough to imagine a better first half. The Rangers were an incredibly consistent team, and really, if they didn’t have that ridiculous schedule to start the season, they could very well be even better than they are now. They have withstood some pretty bad injuries to their D, getting very little offensive production from their leading point scorer from a year ago, and have one of the worst power plays in the league. Somehow, they carry the best winning % in the NHL into the break? Why? Because of a guy who deserves the Jack Adams award. That’s why.
See you guys in a week!