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A look at Rick Nash goal locations: Time to focus powerplay around him?

I think he likes that face off circle.

I think he likes that face off circle.

In our third post that comes via a great graphic from LAR (Loyal Anonymous Reader), we have a great chart of where Rick Nash scores his goals. Of Nash’s 21 goals this season, he really only scores from two areas: In front of the net and at the off-wing face off dot. Neither of these should really surprise anyone, as we’ve known about his sweet spot for a while.

Most of those even strength goals from down low are part of his patented “skate through everyone below the goal line then cut back and use ridiculous reach to slide it under the goalie” move. Almost all of those come at even strength, which makes sense since he’s driving to the net more at 5v5. When the Rangers are on the powerplay, they tend to set up more, thus less goals down low.

What really interests me is eight goals from the off-wing face off dot. Yes, we know he likes to shoot from there, and that’s not what interests me. What really piques my interest is that he reminds me of Jaromir Jagr in terms of location. Remember how much Jagr loved to line up on the off-wing dot, especially on the powerplay, and just have pucks fed to him so he could line up shots?

I bring this up because when Jagr was with the Rangers, then-coach Tom Renney really designed the powerplay with Jagr as the focal point, and the guys on the ice executed this to perfection. Michael Nylander and Marty Straka were essentially there to get the puck to Jagr at that spot. That powerplay formation was pretty potent.

It can be argued that the personnel on the current powerplay is just as skilled as that Jagr powerplay. If that strategy was so successful with Jagr there, then why haven’t they tried setting it up this way with Nash? It’s clear he likes to shoot from that spot, all three of his powerplay goals came from that spot.

With the powerplay really struggling, it’s worth a shot to try this out. Nash is that game breaker the Rangers wanted, and it seems that the powerplay execution doesn’t necessarily allow him to let it go.

Every great power play has their primary scorer on the off-wing face off dot. The Caps have Ovechkin lined up there and the Lightning have Stamkos there, so why shouldn’t the Rangers follow suit? Both of these clubs run the same powerplay that the Rangers do (umbrella/1-3-1), so there are many similarities.

We aren’t in the locker room, so we don’t know what Sully has in mind for the powerplay. For all we know, he’s been preaching this and the guys have failed to execute. Maybe he hasn’t been preaching this. Either way, it’s clear Nash likes to shoot from there. Maybe it’s time to take advantage of that.

18 Responses to “A look at Rick Nash goal locations: Time to focus powerplay around him?”

  1. Jakki says:

    In the two previous matches he’s been set up on the other faceoff-circle. Only a couple of times has he been put on his sweetspot. Put cally in the screen and stepan on the doorstep – that’s the two locations they score from. Maybe put zuke or brassard on the point to feed Nash, and I think the powerplay is gonna be a lot better!

    • Dave says:

      I usually would have something to say, but the poweplay baffles me to be honest.

      I’d like to see Stepan at the other off-wing FO dot, Moore up high, Nash in his sweet spot, Cally in front, and maybe Richards in the middle of the 1-3-1.

  2. Chris F says:

    For some reason, I have a feeling that Torts would oppose designing any plays around a single player. I could be wrong, but the Torts philosophy of sacrifice and team execution of systems strikes me as something he woudnt compromise. Making Nash the focal point would absolve Nash of certain responsibilities, and I don’t think Torts would be on board.

  3. The Suit says:

    Great chart! I think the powerplay has already started to shift around Nash when they began rotating into the 1-3-1, which makes the right side board player one of the focal points for puck distribution and shots. It looked good when they first started using it, but now defenses have figured them out and he’s really the only threat out there.

    To me, the problem is and continues to be the pointmen. There is too much hesitation from Richards and neither he nor MDZ seem to be able to get shots on net. It’s hard to have any success 5 on 4 in this league when you’re clearly lacking those abilities.

    The 1-3-1 is a great tactic, but it falls apart easily when you only really have one player who can make plays or score. This is something they really need to address in the offseason.

    • Walt says:

      Agree with the fact that teams have figured us out. That is the point I have tried to make time, and again, we are toooooo damn predictable!!

      We really haven’t had a decent PP since we had Jgar, and Straka skated together under Renney.

      One question has to be asked, why in the heck do we have Girardi on the point, he shoots nothing but wrist shots, any 10 year old could stop them, why now try Moore, Strhalman, or even heaven forbid Emminger, it has to be an improvement!!

      Did you know that under Torts, over the last 4 years, we have been at under 17% effective on the PP.

    • Dave says:

      The pointmen are a problem, but not having a one-timer option on the other board makes it more difficult to create options.

  4. SalMerc says:

    Powerplay? We have one of those? If we have the players who can execute, then the system is failing. Getting Nash in the right spot is important, but zigging when the other team zags makes you more resourceful. We seem to stay in the hold-the-puck umbrella no matter what the defense does. Definition of crazy is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Sounds like our PP.

  5. Chris F says:

    Nash had a Short-Handed goal this year?

    • Dave says:

      No, he did not. But I believe he scored just after one expired, so there may have been confusion.

      • Jakki says:

        His first goal as a ranger came shorthanded, in the second match of the regular season in a 6-3 loss versus Penguins.

  6. Steffen says:

    Nice stuff!

    Perhaps it might work with Nash, but as I saw the PP of Chicago and Minnasota, I would say, don’t be afraid to pass the puck and wait for an opening to shoot at.
    The passing seems too slow, except for MZA, who seems to be able to change his play a bit.

    When you move the puck fast(quick decision) and hard (pace of puck), you give your teammates more times to look and make a ‘good’ decision.

    I don’t have the data, but everytime the Rangers scored on the PP it was because of a changeup in the pace of play, either being a set play or lucky…

    • Dave says:

      Suit mentioned the passing thing above. The point men are hesitating, which is making the PP less effective.

      • Steffen says:

        2 minutes for one goal. Some guy named Leetch said something that sometimes you need your time to get one good setup…
        ;)

  7. Bloomer says:

    Suit nailed it, our point man is not getting pucks to the net. Del Zotto has a hard shot but can’t get his shot thru traffic. Stall gets his shot through but Torts never plays him on the PP. Moore seems to have a hard slapper and can get pucks at the net, I would give him a chance. I thought the Hobbit was a excellent set up, and Cally and Stephan and of course Nash have the most prowess around the net. Although, I watch Clowe score many PP here on the West Coast. To be honest the defenders already know the puck is going to Nash and cheat and cut off passes going his way. The Rangers need to stop forces passes to Nash and look for someone else who is open. That in the end would give Nash more room to operate.

  8. SalMerc says:

    Rangers need a new PP coach

  9. Justin says:

    Great post, Dave. I was actually thinking this watching game two. There were several times Nash received the puck on the off-wing in his wheelhouse. However, he was set up for puck movement as opposed to in position to rip a quick shot off.

    I think they should definitely try this. I do agree with Suit that the point men are the problem, and this could be something of a bandaid until we can address the real issue in the off-season.