Home-ice advantage is at all times essential for a playoff-bound NHL group, such because the Rangers. It means only a bit extra this year, coming off two seasons of taking part in in entrance of both empty or half-empty arenas for a majority of their video games.
By beating the Islanders 6-3 on Thursday night time, the Rangers earned the suitable to compete at Madison Square Garden for 4 video games (Games 1, 2, 5 and seven) of their first-round playoff collection. It would be the twenty seventh time in franchise historical past the Rangers will open a playoff matchup on dwelling ice and the primary time because the 2015 Eastern Conference finals towards the Lightning.
“I think it matters a lot,” Kevin Rooney mentioned. “Last year, coming right here with being new to the group, I heard quite a bit about taking part in at MSG. You don’t actually get to expertise it with solely 2,500 followers. And this year, it’s simply been outstanding. The assist they’ve given us. I may even assume off the highest of my head a pair of highway video games, in Phoenix, they’re superb, journey so properly.
“Just to get to play in front of them to start the playoffs is amazing and we’re looking forward to playing at home because we feel real comfortable there.”
The Rangers have received 10 of their previous 12 best-of-seven playoff collection which have began on dwelling ice, relationship to the 1994 Conference quarterfinals towards the Islanders. The Rangers will play their ultimate highway sport of the common season Saturday in Boston earlier than they end up with three video games on the Garden towards the Hurricanes, Canadiens and Capitals.
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While the Rangers’ dwelling report of 26-8-4 is robust, their 25-13-2 displaying on the highway is simply as convincing.
“You want home ice for the playoffs,” Ryan Reaves mentioned. “It’s obviously an advantage, especially here. It doesn’t really matter who you’re playing because you’ve got to go through the best teams in this division anyways. It’s always nice to have that home ice, start at home. If it goes to Game 7, to be able to be at home, for sure. We’re going to keep trying to climb.”
Asked how a lot home-ice advantage really issues, head coach Gerard Gallant mentioned it does for Game 7, however in any other case not a lot.
“Well if you win your first two games, it matters,” Gallant mentioned with a smile. “I feel it issues, personally, in Game 7. That’s for me. The first six video games you get back-and-forth, back-and-forth, however for Game 7, I feel it’s an advantage to your group. Play the video games irrespective of the place you’re at.
“Sometimes you have to win big games on the road, which we’ve done this season. And we’ve had a pretty good home record. I think you earn your home ice.”
Gallant mentioned Kaapo Kakko is on tempo to return by the playoffs and that he hopes the Finnish winger may get again within the lineup someday over the ultimate 4 regular-season video games.
“He skated today,” he mentioned. “I think he did pretty well. We’re just going to take it day-to-day. I fully expect [him to return for the playoffs]. That hasn’t changed in my mind. We’ll see how he gets along. I still think he’s going to play games next week, but I’m not trying to put pressure on somebody. I just hope he’s ready to play and that’s what we feel.”