When you are the road team in a playoff series, you always head into the first two games looking to get a split. This way, you can steal back home ice advantage from your opponent. The New York Rangers usually don’t do a good job of getting a split, but they found a way to get a crucial road win in Game 1 against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Penguins are a team that feeds off of the energy of the crowd, like most teams do during the playoffs. However, when you can take the crowd out of a game early, and for a series for that matter, it makes a huge difference. The Rangers not only scored the first two goals of Game 1, taking the crowd out of the game, but they also got the crowd anxious for the next game on Sunday.
This win shouldn’t come as a shocker to many people. The Rangers were one of the best road teams in the NHL this season. In fact, they set a new franchise record for road wins this year. They have all the ingredients to be a good road team; they posses the puck, have great goaltending and play awesome 5-on-5. They also don’t get rattled when teams come back, a trait that their coach, Alain Vigneault, portrays on the bench all the time.
Clearly, the Rangers won’t be happy with some aspects of this game. The power play was atrocious once again, and they gave up too many odd man rushes. They will need to fix that for the rest of the series, but they did an awesome job of stealing home ice from the Penguins, boosting their confidence as a result.