The Rangers need to get their powerplay to at least an acceptable standard and soon – otherwise it threatens to derail a hugely promising season. Already in this young but abbreviated season we’ve seen the Rangers powerplay, despite the addition of an elite talent in Rick Nash, fail to come through in crucial occasions in multiple games and we’re only a handful of games in.
Against Philadelphia on Thursday the Rangers had a long 5 on 3 chance that gave them the opportunity to tie the game. Including the final two minutes of the double minor, the Rangers mustered just two shots on goal in four minutes and in the game overall had just three shots on four powerplay chances. That simply isn’t good enough. Against the Penguins the Rangers had a big chance to get back in to the game when back to back minors for the Pens handed a chance to the Rangers but again, the Rangers failed to capitalise. It continues…
In the Bruins game – the season opener – the Rangers went 0-5 on the powerplay and again, had a chance to tie the game early in the third but failed to take advantage of the five on three advantage. As you can see, the Rangers powerplay is literally costing the team points. How much is too much?
John Tortorella has done a wonderful job as Rangers coach and this is by no means demanding any drastic changes. Along with Glen Sather he has overseen the return to respectability of the franchise and indeed has built up what could be a perennial contender. However, the powerplay has been at best ordinary, at worst brutal, for several seasons. At some stage the coaching staff need to answer why this ongoing issue hasn’t been remotely resolved as it’s certainly not for a lack of talent available. Whether Tortorella takes over the duties for righting the PP wrongs, or whether he changes the personnel who run the unit something needs to be done.
We’ve seen clubs such as San Jose directly address special teams’ woes with adding new coaching staff. The Sharks brought in Larry Robinson and Jim Johnson, expanded former Shark Mike Ricci’s role on the penalty kill and have seen immediate improvements on the penalty kill. It could be time for the Rangers to address their ‘situation’ in similar fashion. Why not bring in specialist coaches? Why the reluctance to draw on the obvious offensive skills and knowledge of a guy like Brian Leetch? A Leetch can’t do any worse with this group of players and at the very least would provide fresh impetus and a PR boom.
When a team can put Brad Richards, Marian Gaborik, Nash and Ryan Callahan on a first powerplay unit that team certainly has enough firepower to have a threatening special teams unit. That isn’t the case here. Something is wrong and someone needs to address it before it ruins the season. It’s already cost this team points.
It is worth noting that Torts has run successful powerplays throughout his entire career, including in the minors prior to coming to the Rangers. Pierre McGuire (hold your laughs) noted this on the radio. Naturally, Torts doesn’t have control of the powerplay this season, Mike Sullivan does. Not sure if you should read into that, but not sure you shouldn’t either.