Turning the power back on at MSG
The year started off slow for the hockey team in the city that never sleeps, but during the last 5 games the New York Rangers have found the aggressive fore check and scoring they have needed to go 4-0-1 during that span. There is one aspect of their game, however, that they have refused to improve upon or find any consistency in whatsoever. This would be the powerless powerplay that exists in the most electrifying city in the United States.
Ranked dead last in the NHL in powerplay scoring, the Rangers have managed to score only 6 times on 53 odd-man advantages including only 1 time on 6 5-on-3 opportunities. Over these opportunities, they have only 65 shots which is little over one an opportunity and the goals that have been scored have not come from the main scorers of the Rangers: Marion Gaborik, Rick Nash, and Brad Richards. So the question remains, what can be done to put some juice into what should be a sigh of relief rather than a nuisance? Well first let’s take a look at what has worked for them on the power play.
Two of these goals have been from the captain of the Rangers, Ryan Callahan. Not from slapshots but from rebounds in front of the net. One of Callahan’s goals came off a rebound from a hard shot by Richards on the only 5-on-3 goal the Rangers have had which came against the Penguins; the other came of a similar rebound against the Penguins again off a hard shot from Rick Nash. Carl Hagelin got his power play goal the same way he has played this entire season so far with extreme effort and toughness. He stuffed in his goal against the Islanders on multiple shots against Nabokov which eventually went to replay but was confirmed as a goal. The newcomer, Taylor Pyatt got his goal off a block from a shot by Gaborik, which caused the defense to become out of place and left Pyatt with a wide open shot on Flyer’s goaltender, Ilya Bryzgalov. The latest power play goal came from Derek Stepan because of decisive passing against the Capitals who broke down on defense and left Stepan with the easy goal. The rookie J.T. Miller, who has played beyond expectations for the Rangers, got his second career goal on the power play on a great pass by Ryan McDonagh through the Islanders defense for a breakaway goal.
All of these goals have an attribute which the Rangers need to learn from to be able to have an affective power play that can actually work to their advantage and not give momentum to the opposing team, which has happened multiple times this year. The biggest issue with the Rangers right now is not shooting the puck. If you have ever been to the Garden for a game, you know that we can get obnoxious with the yelling for a shot. However, for this team they need that. Three goals scored so far have come from the defense breaking down on a shot from a Ranger. Barely above one shot a power play is unacceptable for a team that has three definitive big time scorers and a lot for young talent including talented defensemen. Shooting the puck not only creates chances but places the defense out of position.
This leads to the second focus of the Rangers. Be Decisive! Too many times I have seen a player not sure what to do and thei indecision leads to a bad set of plays for the Rangers that go nowhere. This is a must for the Rangers if they want to win. The goal that Stepan had this year came from three straight passes immediately to the wide open Stepan that broke down the defense and gave him a great shot opportunity. Finally, insure the entry into the zone. The puck needs to be dumped in, have your fast players, Chris Kreider and Hagelin, receive the dump and get it to your point men. If the 30 million dollar trio of Nash, Richards, and Gaborik can get the puck at the point and start shooting the Rangers should be able to get more opportunities. Once, these three things can be done the Rangers should be able to improve on this horrific display that has been the “Powerless” power play of the New York Rangers.
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