Hockey systems: What Nash means to the Rangers power play

Umbrella

Hockey will be back soon and finally we can start talking about the systems and strategies of this great game we all know and love. One of the most critical – and contested – aspects of the Rangers system in 2012 was their power play.

For the sake of brevity, I will just say last year’s mediocre power play was not due to coaching decisions or their umbrella formation (seen above). The problem was a lack of execution based on limited personnel. Penalty killers could key in on one guy and knew the others either wouldn’t sense open ice (hockey IQ) or put a quality shot on net.

So how can Nash help the Rangers improve?

1) Zone Entries

The Rangers were subpar at crossing the blueline with the puck. This was because Richards was the only guy who was comfortable handling rubber through penalty killer traffic. Nash gives them another option, which will help spread the coverage.

2) The cycle

Cycling the puck is a start. Cycling players is what creates defensive miscues. The purpose of any power play is to exploit open ice. Cally is good at setting screens, but not finding real estate for one-timers. Nash can be that guy. He can set the screen and move up to receive forehand shots. Nash can also play along the walls and use his frame to protect the puck ala Jagr in his heyday. Lots of possibilities there.

Ultimately, I think Nash plays left wing just as well as right wing, so I see him rotating between the slot and either wing depending on who else is out on the ice. His handedness almost doesn’t matter because he’s just as good playing the off wing.

3) The points

The Rangers were subpar at keeping the puck in the zone. Part of this can be blamed on our pointmen, but part of the problem was our pointmen often didn’t find anyone to dish to. With Nash drawing coverage down low, it will also open up ice for MDZ or Richards to walk the line and find a better shooting lane. Ideally you’d like to see a right handed shot at the point, but Girardi isn’t that guy, so I think you’ll still see a Richards/MDZ combo up high.

Obviously it is going to take a few weeks for the Rangers to come together and all get on the same page.  After all, there are a few new faces and several different power play formations that are used in the NHL, which you can read more about in my series of posts here.

14 Responses to “Hockey systems: What Nash means to the Rangers power play”

  1. Matt Josephs says:

    One problem. This is still a Mike Sullivan power play. Will Nash help? Definitely. I just still think there’s a system problem with the Rangers when it comes to the power play.

    Last year the power play worked in either bunches or not at all. They need to score more goals and be more consistent.

    • Dave says:

      It didn’t work consistently because the opposition could hone in on Gaborik as the only shooter, or Cally as the rebound guy. Nash spreads the threat.

  2. SalMerc says:

    Any good power-play has movement within the zone, quick passes and quick shots. Too many times the NYR go point-to-point ad nauseam. They need to make some diagonal passes and move without the puck. Let’s hope they have a few plays where the forward get the puck in the slot. Nash can bury a shot from the slot, while Cally can pick up scraps in front. Once again, easier said than done.

    • Dave says:

      I think it’s more of a lack of movement, which leads to lack of creativity. If the guys on the PP are standing still, it’s very easy to defend.

  3. Walt says:

    One thing not mentioned is that with Nash up front, that big frame will obstruct the view of the goalie, and give us a better chance of scoreing. Let’s face it, he can screen out the play, and if the goalie is lucky to stop the first shot, we have trash collecters, ala Callie, there for the rebound! Esposito anyone?

    I’m so excited to get this season started, and win it all!!!!!

    PS-MDZ got smart, took his head out of his ass, and signed, good move kid.

    • Dave says:

      As Suit mentioned, the one aspect that Nash adds is the ability to get in position for a one timer after setting a screen.

    • The Suit says:

      That’s what is so great about Nash, he can be used anywhere. You put him in the slot, along the boards, up high, or just let him be a rover. Either way, with him on board, I def see their PP improving this year.

  4. Mikeyyy says:

    You have to get the puck off the wall.

    If you have a finisher waiting for the one-timer , you have to get it there.

    The PP was horrible at moving the play from the wall and down low to the front of the net.

    If your going to play the Umbrella then you don’t camp out behind the net. You keep it at the half boards and rotate across the top for a good shot or a pass into the slot. Too many times we would cycle low and then lose the puck in the corners or pass the puck out of the zone.

    Its what Jagr was so good at, getting the puck along the boards and then driving to the net to cause a play to happen, gotta get it off the wall.

  5. Dave says:

    Hey Suit, think the Rangers will go with 4 forwards on both units?

    • JW says:

      Wouldn’t mind seeing MDZ/Richie and Stralman or MacD with Stepan (although he doesn’t have the big shot, he has the vision)

      • Dave says:

        Richards, Gabby, Nash, Stepan, Cally, Hagelin, Kreider are the forwards. Guessing MDZ and McD get two of the three point spots. Maybe Stralman? Staal? Girardi?

    • The Suit says:

      Nah, I think only the first unit will have 4 forwards and MDZ. The second unit will likely feature McD/Girardi…perhaps Stralman if either of the latter struggle.