The New York Rangers dropped their fifth straight playoff game on home ice—a no show, 5-0 loss against the Penguins.
Eric Fehr scored just over a minute into the first period. That goal was more than Pittsburgh would need in this one, as it was over after that. The lack of effort from the Rangers’ players is and should be the main storyline without a doubt, but I’d like to take Jim Dolan to task for effectively pricing passionate fans out of the building.
Once the playoffs come along, Rangers playoff viewings at the Garden are the hottest ticket in town—and for good reason. Madison Square Garden is a state of the art arena that puts on a great show, with great hockey to boot (usually). Unfortunately, as a result, prices have become too high for people who actually have a vested interest in the team and the outcome of the game to attend. Subsequently, home ice is no longer an advantage when the playoffs roll around. This absolutely has an effect on the psyche of the players.
The crowd has difficulty sustaining any sort of volume, heck when was the last time a “let’s go Rangers” chant lasted more than a few rounds? It rarely happens anymore. Ideally you’d like to play in front of an audience that is engaged in the game, that wants to see their team win so desperately. Instead, Dolan has turned 3/4th’s of MSG into a place for rich business people to entertain clients, and it shows.
New York has lost their last five playoff games at The Garden dating back to Game 2 of last season’s Conference Final. They’ve scored three goals in those five games. What ever happened to home ice advantage? It doesn’t exist right now at MSG, thanks to Dolan and the super high price of admission. To get into Thursday’s 5-0 loss you would had to have shelled out a cool $190 on StubHub. What a joke.
Like the players, the fans gave up after it become 2-0 Pittsburgh in Game 4. When the Islanders went down 2-0 to the Florida Panthers in Game 3 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, the crowd was loud because they cared—they were real fans. The Islanders would go on to win that game with the home crowd behind them that whole way.
This certainly isn’t meant to be a knock against the Blueshirt faithful. There are thousands of real Rangers fans all across the world. On some nights, seas of blue invade away rinks and are louder than that particular teams home crowd. But with prices as high as they are, the average Ranger fan is relegated to the couch night after night while MSG is full of those who come with a large bank account and not a care in the world about the result of the game.
The last Rangers playoff game I was able to go to was in May of 2012, Game 7 of the Conference Semi-Finals against Washington. That crowd was as loud as I’ve ever heard. I got my tickets for $55. Brad Richards scored a minute into that game and the Rangers rode the electricity of the crowd to a gutsy 2-1 win. It was a great atmosphere to be around.
Fast forward to 2016 and that atmosphere is nowhere to be found. The crowd was listless last night, as it was in Game 7 against Tampa Bay last season too. James Dolan is to blame.
The Rangers will head on the road—where they’ve been far better in the playoffs– in an attempt to keep their season alive on Saturday.
Penthouse Views is an editorial column on SkyscraperSports.com that gives the best views on the hottest subjects around the New York sports world.