ST. PAUL, Minn. — Unlike a lot of coaches, David Quinn doesn’t deny his Rangers play differently on the road. And as he preaches that simpler, more straightforward game, the schedule might be in his favor.
Quinn and his squad started a stretch of eight out of 10 games away from the Garden with Tuesday night’s 4-1 win at Winnipeg. That took them to the NHL’s version of being over .500 on the road for the season (12-11-2), and their faint postseason hopes rest on continued improvement.
“This isn’t like when we go on the road we go, ‘Oh, no,’ ” Quinn said as his team got the day off Wednesday before the road trip continues against the Wild on Thursday night. “We’re a confident group, and I don’t think the venue matters to us right now. We think we can win hockey games regardless of if we’re at home or on the road.”
This particular trip will end with a seemingly important game, at Columbus in the second leg of a back-to-back Friday night.
With John Tortorella’s team managing to hold a wild-card spot despite a rash of injuries, the Rangers certainly would benefit from making up some ground.
After Sunday’s Garden matinee against the Bruins, the Rangers go back out for games at Chicago and Carolina. Then, after a stop back at the Garden against the Sharks — followed by the all-important Feb. 24 trade deadline — the Blueshirts travel to face the Islanders, Canadiens and Flyers to finish off the month.
Kaapo Kakko didn’t have a great game on Tuesday, and after he was denied on a scoring chance at the right post midway through the second period, he barely stopped himself from smacking his stick against the boards. The 18-year-old didn’t seem too interested in being consoled by coaches on the bench.
He then took a hooking penalty in the third period that led to the Jets’ only goal. Kakko finished the game with 11:21 of ice time, his least since Dec. 28.
After Tuesday, when Jacob Trouba and Brendan Lemieux returned to play their former team and Brett Howden returned to his childhood home, Thursday will be a homecoming for two Minnesota boys — defensemen Brady Skjei, from Lakeville, and Ryan Lindgren, from Burnsville.
Lindgren elebrated his 22nd birthday on Tuesday.