Ever since Jaromir Jagr departed the Rangers for greener pastures, the Rangers powerplay has struggled. The complaints were always the same, no matter the personnel. There weren’t enough shots, they were trying to be too fancy, and they weren’t moving their feet. A static powerplay is easy to defend. However, the story appears to be a bit different in the playoffs this season.
Very quietly, the Rangers have had one of the better powerplays in the postseason, ranking in the top 50% of playoff teams. Their conversion rate is at 16.9% in the playoffs, which is a full percentage point above their regular season conversion rate of 15.7%. It may not seem like a big jump, but that 1% can go a long way. After all, three of the Rangers five goals in the Eastern Conference Finals have come with the man advantage.
The Rangers actually have the second best powerplay conversion rate of the teams still in the playoffs. Interestingly enough, the Devils are the leaders at an even 20% conversion rate, while the Coyotes (12.5%) and Kings (10.2%) are sitting well behind the Eastern Conference teams.
But it’s not just the numbers that are playing in the Rangers favor, it’s the overall look of the powerplay that has had most people relatively impressed. They seem to be moving the puck better, finding open space, and really attacking the opposition. More shots from the point are leading to more deflections and goals as well.
Sure, it’s not a perfect powerplay, but it is definitely improvement. Remember the powerplays from the beginning of the year that yielded 48 pass attempts and no shot attempts? Those appear to be a thing of the past. Well, at least when they are given the opportunity to set up and move the puck around.
The Rangers are converting at opportunistic times as well, which is another reason why the powerplay has looked so good. I can remember numerous times when a powerplay goal would have tied or won the game in the final minutes of the game, but the Rangers failed to convert. Not this year. That Joel Ward double minor penalty, which led to two separate powerplay goals is a prime example of how the Rangers are starting to convert at opportunistic times.
It’s very odd to say that the Rangers powerplay is no longer a weakness in their game this postseason. But it appears that the Rangers have found a way to at least have a serviceable powerplay. Does it need improvement? Absolutely, but it’s no longer going to cost them games. Progress is a good thing.