Torts’ penalty killing horses being identified

February 11, 2013, by
Howard Simmons/New York Daily News

Howard Simmons/New York Daily News

During last night’s second straight convincing win over the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Rangers started becoming what we expected of them. It took about ten games to shake off the rust and get accustomed to the season, which is what we expected. As players get used to playing the game again, they also get used to the roles they will be playing for the team this year.

Last night we saw the coaching staff deploy ten different players on the penalty kill, with eight being used for at least 1:30 (give or take 5 seconds). These eight players are clearly the workhorses on the kill, and while there are some usual suspects, it’s not all who you would expect. It’s also interesting to see the two players who were used for under a minute –Rick Nash, Carl Hagelin– were two players we expected to get a decent amount of time on the kill. Although their ice time shows that they will be used to relieve the other forwards when tired.

The eight guys used for regular penalty killing time consists of four forwards (Jeff Halpern, Darroll Powe, Ryan Callahan, Derek Stepan) and four defensemen (Dan Girardi, Ryan McDonagh, Marc Staal, Anton Stralman). The first three listed in each category were the ones we expected to be getting this kind of time. However, seeing Stepan and Stralman out there for extended periods shows the trust the coaching staff has in them defensively.

We spoke about Stralman this morning, and how his emergence has really given the Rangers some depth on a healthy blue line. His ability to play on the penalty kill keeps Michael Del Zotto fresher –they had about the same playing time at even strength– for the powerplay (when he gets PP time). He also gets to relieve the defensive juggernaut trio of Staal/McDonagh/Girardi for a bit.

As for the forwards, it’s refreshing to see Stepan out there regularly. He adds some offensive talent and a potential threat, something that other teams are going to have to be aware of. His ice time on the kill corresponds to Cally’s time, so that unit in itself is both fundamentally sound and possesses an offensive threat. Throw in the Nash/Hagelin duo for a shift here and there, and the Rangers have a defensively solid kill with some offensive potential. It’s clear that Torts is relying on these guys heavily.

Of course, there is no coincidence that once Henrik Lundqvist started being The King again, the kill started being effective again. He will always be the most effective penalty killer on the ice.

Categories : Analysis, Special Teams


  1. Walt says:

    Reading the names of the forwards killing penalties, I would have thought Boyle’s name would have been there as well, wow!!!!!

    • Scully says:

      Boyle’s on the pine right now. I think once he gets back in the lineup (and proves he deserves to stay) he’ll slot back into his usual position. Just for the record I do think he’ll quickly prove he deserves to stay. Boyle’s no scrub.

    • Dave says:

      I’m basing this off the last few games, where Boyle has been a scratch. If he gets back in the lineup, expect him to be a PKer.

      • Chris F says:

        So, do you expect J.T. Miller to return to the AHL once he hits 5 games, or do you think he’s shown enough that Sather will be willing to burn a year of his ELC?

        If he stays with the Rangers, whose place do you think Boyle will take, if and when he proves he deserves another shot on the roster?

        • Dave says:

          I honestly don’t know. I only saw his two goal game, and I won’t see another game until this weekend (traveling for work).

          From what I’ve gathered, he’s been playing well away from the puck, which is important for Torts. Still 2 more games to make a decision.

  2. Mikeyyy says:

    I think you guys are jumping the gun. Played one game against a tiredteam and all of a sudden we are fleshing things out.

    One game we should have won does not a season make.

    My gem today… Move Boyle to the 3rd d pairing. He has a heavy shot and can clear the crease.

    • Dave says:

      Just looking at TOI, which won’t change much throughout the season.

    • Walt says:

      Boyle played defense at BC, might not be a bad idea to try hime there for a game, or two!!

      • Dave says:

        He doesn’t have the footspeed to play defense at the NHL level. He will get murdered out there.