It should have come as no surprise that the Rangers were able to squeak a win out on their home ice winning by the narrowest of margins.
As a former player, my memories of away games focused on the immediate challenge of getting acclimated to the change in environments.
We had to figure out the climate, to try regulating body temperature, its important because having on too much can cause overheating, having on too little can cause muscle aches and tightness, so as simple as getting the right feel of the arena is key.
The playing surface is a big key — some have made it clear that Madison Square Garden does not have the best ice.
At home we practiced on the same surface we played on, different places but the same grass so there was a familiarity on how tight the ground was or how loose. These little nuances can dictate superior footing which theoretically gives the home team an added advantage.
I’m not sure if its the same with skates, but I would assume the equipment guys, much like in my sport, adjust the players’ blades to the comfort level of his satisfaction, based off the ice on which they’re skating.
Then, as players, we had to get adjusted to the different crowd. For me, I really only heard the crowd at certain times but, depending on being home or away, dictated what type of energy I felt when I could hear them. At home when I heard the crowd, I got energized and continued to encourage the fans to stay involved. Away games are different, I had to block out the very thing that drives me or use the boos and the negative energy towards me as fuel, either way it’s not home and it’s not a luxury.
My whole point is when the Capitals traveled to New York there’s much more preparation and adjusting than usual and, in my opinion, although the team could have been better in the game it comes as no surprise that the Rangers were able to capture that first game on their own ice.
In football, it’s one and done in the playoffs so that added level of difficulty when playing away games has to be overcome that day, what’s great for the Capitals is they now have a game under their belt and are better adjusted to their surroundings. Now they will comeback Wednesday and have another go at it.
Look for the Capitals to be quicker and faster on the ice in the next game skating is this teams strength they will skate better in the next game.