Time For The Offense (Powerplay) To Get Going

January 30, 2012, by

The Rangers have had a bit of an issue getting consistent scoring on a game-to-game basis. Every now and then they light up an opponent, but for the most part they are getting by on goaltending, defense, luck, and goaltending. That’s not to say there’s something wrong with that, but a balanced offense would make things a lot easier. The Rangers have just four players on pace for 20 goal seasons, down from five last year. Brandon Dubinsky and Brian Boyle were in that group last year, and will need miracles to get there this year.

That leaves just Marian Gaborik, Derek Stepan, Ryan Callahan, and Brad Richards as the 20 goal guys this year. That’s simply not good enough.

In the month of January, the Rangers have played 11 games, with tomorrow night’s game in New Jersey capping the month. The Rangers have gone an impressive 8-3, but when you look at the underlying goals scored, it’s not that impressive. In those 11 games, the Rangers scored three goals 7 times, two goals once, one goal twice, and got shutout once. Not one time did the Rangers score more than three goals. This wasn’t an issue in December.

The problem is likely within the powerplay, as the Rangers have just one player with double-digit points with the man advantage (Richards). Only four other players (Gaborik, Callahan, Michael Del Zotto, Dan Girardi) have eight points or more when on the powerplay. Can you remember the last time they scored with the man advantage? I can’t.

But, the powerplay has looked good in recent games. They are moving around, moving the puck, and getting good chances. The problem is they aren’t finishing. A 14.1% powerplay conversion rate isn’t going to get them far.

However, there is room for optimism. With all the talk about regression to the mean for the Rangers, the powerplay falls in the exact opposite boat. The Rangers finished last season at 16.9% on the powerplay last season. That is almost three full percentage points higher than their 14.1% rate this year, with an upgraded unit (on paper at least). There is room for progression to the mean here.

Progression to the mean is hopefully something that can be triggered by some people moving more towards their career averages in points as the season goes along. Brad Richards is one that is struggling to meet his career average of approximately 70 points. Brandon Dubinsky has a career average of  approximately 40 points, and he –like Richards– is going to have to have a strong second half to get there.

The Rangers are winning despite their offensive woes, where there is clearly room for improvement and room for the law of averages to take effect. If they continue to falter, then that weight on Henrik Lundqvist’s shoulders is going to get mighty heavy. There’s still two and a half months to get it right.

Categories : Analysis


  1. ArtyFan says:

    ‘But, the powerplay has looked good in recent games’ …. I don’t want to insult anybody here. Probably you watching Pens and thinking of Rangers re PP. Rangers playing on 1 of MSG channels. If it would be only finish problem, but they have breakaways and let the PK rest. ‘Better’? What is that come from?

    • Dave says:

      When you formulate that into an articulate sentence with appropriate sentence structure, I will be able to respond. Until then, I have no idea what you are trying to say here.

      • ArtyFan says:

        It just was a replication on your assessing, how Rangers progressed lately on PP, but couldn’t finish. I just was so shocked to hear that. What exactly impressed you lately on their PP?

        • Dave says:

          They aren’t just standing still, they are getting good puck movement, and their shots (when they actually take shots) are from decent locations. They aren’t crashing the net or finishing though.

  2. RangerSmurf says:

    Conversion Rates of the Ranger’s 5v4 shots (shots/60 in parentheses):
    07-08: 10.8% (51.6)
    08-09: 9.1% (47.8)
    09-10: 12.3% (49.5)
    10-11: 11.4% (48.6)
    11-12: 11.8% (40.6)

    PP conversion rate [probably] isn’t going to see any progression, it’s right there where it has been compared to the last two seasons.

    If someone can explain (and subsequently fix) the 8 shot drop in their SOG this year, that will do wonders for turning the PP around.

    • Dave says:

      Right…so more shots = more goals…hence the progression to the mean. They averaged more shots on goal last year.

      • RangerSmurf says:

        Regression/Progression comes from when something out of a player’s control is inflating/weighing down the numbers.

        That’s not the case here. There’s no guarantee that number changes without a change of mentality/system/whatever, or an influx of talent.

  3. leatherneckinlv says:

    We get Richards going it just may solve some of the issues stated. We also need to solidify a winger on Gabby and Steps line and have them on as the 1st powerplay unit. It just might be time for Dubi to step up and CENTER the 1st line with Gabby and Stepan as off wings. I think Hags should go back with Boyle and Mitchell. That line was very solid when they played. Anisimov with Richards and Callahan ever been tried this year?

  4. Zen says:

    If a team doesn’t have anyone who can shoot the puck from the point, then the majority of the defensive PK pressure is on the forwards down low. If those forwards don’t have the skill level to beat that pressure, then there is a major issue. The solution to that problem is often coaching and a solid PP system that consists of constant puck and player movement…and even a few set plays. IMO- the PP is a complete fail because of coaching. The players looks like statues out there and are just lost.

  5. The Suit says:

    Torts has tried just about everything to get these guys going. They def have some personnel issues.

    Their point shots seem to miss the net more than they should and our low forwards – specifically on the left side – have trouble reading when to setup our pointmen or when to just take the damn shot.

    I think our power play will improve as MDZ, Stepan, McD, Arty grow offensively, but that will take time…potentially beyond this season IMO.

  6. pavel says:

    There’s only one thing the Rangers can do to help the powerplay. FIRE MIKE SULLIVAN!!!! Seriously, this guy’s been running the powerplay for 3 years now, and it still sucks!!! It’s not about getting someone to run the point and it’s not about getting another scoring winger. You could have Nicklas Lidstrom and Shea Weber on the points with Sidney Crosby down low, this powerplay would still suck if Sullivan is coaching them.

    • The Suit says:

      Mike Sullivan is your scapegoat…really?

    • Dave says:

      The powerplay has been bad with several different coaches. It’s personnel, not coaching.

      • Ray says:

        Its not the coaching. They guys just stand still. They need to move and create open lanes for passes and shots. That will also keep the defense moving and tire them out. When you stand practically STILL the defense does not have to do much but stand there. On a diff note, Richards cant be blamed for any of this if the rest of the guys dont move to get open. I will say this again….as JD always said…..things happen when you move your feet.

  7. Walt says:

    The PP just plain stinks to high heaven. Over all the shots taken, selection, and positioning of the forwards leaves quite a bit to be desired.

    Has anyone else picked up on the fact that last season, our PK had a load of shorties, Prust especially, and that is down as well. Has the coaching staff addressed this issue? Prust, and Boyle worked very well together last season, and they were split up for a period of time this year. Maybe it’s time for the entire PP players be seated for some time, and give the 3rd, and or 4th line guys a shot at the PP, I bet they will get the players attention!!!

  8. wwpd says:

    For the team to regress to 16.9% PP effectiveness for the year it would have to do 20.7% the rest of the way. that would be about 0.22 extra goals per game.

    said another way, this would result in an additional 8ish goals to split among roughly ten players making up two power play lines for the rest of the season.

    so it would be nice to suddenly have a 20.7% efficient power play due to mean regression but i’m not going to get all worked up about it just yet 🙂

  9. Scott C says:

    I think they generate quality scoring chances on 5 on 5 play but their shooting is below average.
    Practice this more or something.
    The 5 on 3 PP failure is embarrassing. MDZ has not been good on the PP but is given a lot of minutes. They also pass too much – try to thread passes thru the opponents and turn it over when they do this. They need to rethink a better plan.
    I also hope the AllStar game energized Gabby’s shooting touch. (Don’t tell me 25 goals – he should have more.)