Rangers fans during Game 1 against the Florida Panthers in the...

Rangers fans during Game 1 against the Florida Panthers in the Eastern Conference Final at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday. Credit: Getty Images/Elsa

Two things that can be true at the same time:

First, Rangers fans are as loyal, passionate and knowledgeable as they come. They show up even when the team is losing. They wear a creative, cross-generational collection of replica jerseys. They boo questionable icing calls.

Second, none of that matters to the bottom line.

For better or worse, home-ice “advantage” in the NHL playoffs largely is a myth.

As the Rangers readied for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference final at Madison Square Garden on Friday night, there naturally was talk of the comforts of home.

This is part of the drill for journalists and players. We ask them about the edge they get from playing in front of their fans in the playoffs, and they agree.

Then the games start, and . . . not so much.

In the first round of this year’s Stanley Cup playoffs, home teams went 22-22.

In the second round, home teams went 9-16, and all four conference finalists clinched their series on the road.

That includes the Rangers and the Panthers, who were 3-0 in Boston (and 1-2 at home), then opened the third round with a 3-0 shutout of the Rangers at the Garden.

The Western Conference final began on Thursday, and the Oilers beat the Stars in double overtime — in Dallas, naturally. That dropped home teams’ record in this year’s playoffs to 31-40.

Through the first 69 playoff games, road teams had won 38 games. That was the second- most ever, behind the 40 of 69 games road teams won last year.

Before Game 2, the Ranger most associated with the home fans weighed in on the NHL’s home/away conundrum. That would be Matt Rempe, of course.

“Some guys love being on the road, like being the villain-in-the-barn type of thing,” Rempe said. “Don’t have the pressure of being at home, go on the road and just play hockey. I can see that.

“I love playing at home. There’s so much energy. It’s wicked. It’s a lot of fun. But I like the road too. Then you can be the bad guy.”

What about you, Jimmy Vesey, a nine-year veteran and a decade Rempe’s senior?

“As the playoffs go on, it gets tighter and tighter,” he said. “Other than that, I think sometimes being on the road can be a good thing for a team, spending time together at the hotel, hanging out, less distractions.”

Regardless of the outcome of Game 2, the Game 1 loss meant the Rangers will travel to Florida for the weekend having given up home-ice advantage in the final five games, if that many are necessary. Three of those would be played in Florida.

In theory, a problem. In reality, less so. The Rangers entered Game 2 with a 4-2 home record in these playoffs and a 4-1 record on the road.

The road dynamic is different for the Rangers than for most teams because their fans are so numerous and so diasporic that they turn up everywhere.

Whenever coach Peter Laviolette is asked about the passion of the fans, he tends to marvel about the number he sees on the road.

“They’re unbelievable,” he said before the conference finals began. “I think about not only the support here in the city and surrounding the city and MSG and fans that come to the game. I think about the fan base that’s really all over the world, all over the country.

“It’s amazing to me how many fans show up wearing the Rangers colors in an away building — and loud. There was a group right behind the bench in Carolina [in Game 6] pounding the glass, pounding the glass, letting us know that they’re there, letting the players know that they’re there.

“They love their team. They love the city. They’re hungry. That’s a good thing. It’s awesome to be a part of.”

There also were Rangers fans seated directly behind the Carolina bench for that second-round clincher last week. And there is sure to be plenty of Rangers blue in the house for Game 3 in Sunrise, Florida, on Sunday.

But the way things are going for road teams in the playoffs, the Rangers might be better off focusing on the Panthers jerseys in the crowd rather than the Rangers ones.


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