Road Warriors: The importance of being a good road team
There is a famous adage in sports which goes, “the complexion of a series doesn’t change until the road team wins a game.” While that statement only applies when it comes to the playoffs, the need to be a solid road team can not be understated when it comes to the regular season as well.
The Rangers are coming off a season where they posted a 28-11-2 record away from MSG, with the 28 wins being the most in franchise history. 10 of those wins came via sweeping two west coast trips and a split east-west trip in early February. Without their dominance on the road, the Rangers had no chance of winning the Presidents’ Trophy.
What makes winning on the road more challenging, is the factor of having last change. As the visiting team, they submit their opening lineup first, thus giving the home coach the luxury of putting out his best five to create the best mismatch. But that’s not so important. What is important however, are those in-game switches at every whistle, when the home coach can see who’s out there for the visitors and then create the mismatch. As a result, the visitor usually has to make a quick change which can always go awry, or they can have a top pairing on the blue line burn some valuable minutes against the home team’s checking line.
To our luck, the Rangers play 7 of their 11 October games on home ice. Before they even hit home ice, they’re going to first play two on the road- tonight in Chicago and Friday in Columbus against a much improved Blue Jackets’ team. Establishing a presence on the road will go a very long way for the Rangers if they want to return to the top of the standings again in 2015-2016.
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