Madison Square Garden, also known as the world’s most famous arena. However, when the New York Rangers lose a game, it’s the world’s quietest arena.
The last two seasons combined the Rangers were unstoppable at home (54-19-9). It’s safe to say that home ice has been nothing but home sweet home for the team. Even the start of this season, the home ice has been kind to the Rangers.
Nonetheless, the last four games on home ice for the Rangers have not felt like home games. It started with a disastrous 5-3 loss to the bottom feeders of the NHL, the Vancouver Canucks.
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Nov 27, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers goalie Antti Raanta (32) makes a pad save on a shot by Ottawa Senators center Zack Smith (15) during the first period at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports
The next game, a 3-2 shootout loss to the Florida Panthers, followed by a 6-1 loss to the Penguins on the eve of Thanksgiving. Finally the game against the Ottawa Senators, a 2-0 loss. In these three games, the Rangers found themselves outscored in the second period 7-0. A rarity for a team that was in first in the NHL for goals in the second period.
Is it time to hit the panic button? Not yet, it’s still early enough in the season where the team should be able to solve the problem and fix it.
One of the problems is Alain Vigneault’s line combinations. Starting with breaking up the line of Michael Grabner-Kevin Hayes-J.T. Miller. The line was extremely noticeable in the Rangers last home win, a 6-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning. The line in the one game alone combined for four goals and nine points against Ben Bishop, who had dominated the Rangers in the past.
The Grabner-Hayes-Miller line had four goals and nine points against Ben Bishop, who had a .940 career save percentage vs. NYR.
Following was the break up of the Jimmy Vesey-Derek Stepan- Rick Nash line. To start the season, Vesey fed off the opportunity he given to him when he had a little more ice to move around with, while teams were concerned with Nash. It also helped Vesey being on the ice with Stepan, a person who excels at passing the puck.
The next concern for the team is how flat they have looked the last game and a half. Starting with the second period against the Penguins, going through the entire game against the Senators the team has been nothing but flat. Again, the line changes play a role. The lines have no chemistry which leads to the lack of speed. So often early in the season, the Rangers were explosive out of their zone by hitting the forward breaking through the neutral zone.
Coming up for the Rangers, the Carolina Hurricanes, the same Hurricanes team that beat the Rangers earlier this season. It was one of the first games of the season where it looked as if the Rangers looked to struggle with their speed.