Before the season we projected that it would take 53 points to make the playoffs in the shortened 48-game season. The Rangers are still on track to net exactly 53 points, but in looking ahead at the Rangers’ schedule, things become a little dicey.
New York has already played 15 of its 24 home games, meaning the Rangers will play just 9 of their remaining 23 games in the friendly confines of Madison Square Garden. The Blueshirts have a 9-5-1 mark at home this year, but fell to just 4-5-1 on the road with last night’s loss in Buffalo.
Granted, that’s a tiny sample size, but if the Blueshirts continue their current pace of earning .9 points per game on the road, they’ll pick up just 12 more road points this year. Add that to New York’s current point total and you get 40, which would mean New York would need to pick up 13 of 18 points at home to attain our magic number.
Obviously, those numbers are completely meaningless and can be skewed dramatically with each game played, but there’s no doubt that the Rangers must begin to play better away from home.
If the results from recent years are reassuring, then there’s no cause for concern. The Rangers have played very well away from home; in fact they’d actually been consistently better away from MSG until last season’s 109-point breakout:
It shouldn’t be particularly difficult for the Rangers to make the postseason given their current positioning in the standings and the talent they possess, but this is also a team that is expected to do more than just squeak into the playoffs. We all know about the remarkable effort John Tortorella has been able to coax out of his team during his tenure as head coach, so the packed road slate shouldn’t be alarming. As long as the Rangers stick to playing a simple, tough, hardworking game, they’ll be fine.