Shrine Circus for Oilers

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:38 PM ET

NEW YORK — It’s normally a bad thing when teams enjoy coming to your building.

That’s why the Bruins took great pride in putting out the Not Welcome mat at the entrance to Boston Garden.

That’s why the Flyers, those pioneers of germ warfare, spread the mysterious epidemic known as Philly Flu into the visitors’ dressing room before games.

Some places you just don’t want to go.

But when a building is as steeped in tradition as Madison Square Garden, playing there is a treat — no matter what the Rangers look like.

“It’s a temple of hockey, there’s no question about that, of entertainment, for that matter,” said former Rangers coach Tom Renney, who’ll lead the nervous band of Edmonton Oilers kids into the shrine on Sunday.

“I think our young guys should be excited about going in there. It’s no different, almost, than playing your first NHL game.”

Rivalled only by Montreal as the best place to see a game, MSG has the history (from Ali to Elvis) and the energy to stand the hairs up on anyone’s arms.

“What we want them to do is go in and enjoy it, drink it up and have a hell of a time playing in a great venue against a good team,” said Renney. “That’s what this is all about, developing the requisite ability to deal with anything the NHL season brings and these guys are doing it.”

For Taylor Hall, the day is made even more special by the fact it’s his 19th birthday.

“This is one I had circled on the calendar,” he said, adding he’ll have a band of family and friends in for the game. “It’ll be fun.”

More fun now that he’s back on his game, or at least was in New Jersey, after a couple of tough outings in Carolina and Detroit.

“He looked confident, he wanted the puck,” Renney said of the bounce back game. “He wanted to take it places.

As for his own homecoming, Renney, who coached in New York for five seasons, wants to put that on the back burner.

“For myself, it’s all about the Edmonton Oilers trying to get in there and steal two points.”

CAPTAIN BACK: Shawn Horcoff, who’s missed the last three games of the road trip, all of them losses, should probably be ready for Sunday against the Rangers.

“He was close (in New Jersey) but I held him out,” said Renney. “I think it’s likely.”

HIGH NOON: Line-ups are up to the coaches and situations can change depending on the flow of the game, but the potential for Steve MacIntyre versus Derek Boogaard at centre ice of Madison Square Garden already has people buzzing.

The two fought back on Jan. 30, 2009 in Edmonton, with MacIntyre freshly back from a broken orbital bone and Boogaard with the Minnesota Wild.

robert.tychkowski@sunmedia.ca


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