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Finding a puck mover like Torey Krug is more important than finding a cannon point shot

Photo by Joe Makarski, Bruins Daily.

Photo by Joe Makarski, Bruins Daily.

As some of you may have noticed, the Rangers were awful on the power play again in 2013.

One of the simple fixes suggested by many has been to bring in a guy with a cannon point shot.  That’d be a nice luxury to have, but the truth is that there are very few players in the league as effective at Zdeno Chara at breaking Ryan Callahan’s limbs calmly holding the blueline in the offensive zone while intermittently directing 100+ mph slappers through traffic at enemy goalies.  New York has no one capable of doing that – in fact Dan Girardi probably has the hardest shot on the team, which is likely the sole reason John Tortorella has stubbornly deployed him on the man advantage in recent years – but few teams do.

Give me a puck mover like Boston has apparently found in Torey Krug over that point blast any day.  Krug may have just enjoyed the best five-game stretch of his career, but he also single-handedly transformed one of the few power plays in the league worse than the Rangers into a high octane unit that converted 33% of its chances against the world’s best goalie.  The Bruins already had Chara’s legendary rocket, but it was Krug’s heat-seeking shot, speed, decisiveness and poise with the puck that gave the Bruins a new dimension.

And the real plus of having a guy like Krug over that big bomb shooter?  Krug was as important to Boston at even strength as he was on the PP.  He wasn’t anything special defensively, but Krug completely changed the tempo of the Bruins attack, something New York was ill prepared for and unable to handle.

Michael Del Zotto was supposed to be that guy for New York.  As it stands, he’s still the team’s most offensive-minded defenseman, but MDZ’s truly dangerous rushes into the offensive zone come once every week or two, not once every other shift like Krug.  Del Zotto also hasn’t yet mastered directing traffic on the point during the PP.  That may still come, but as of now Tortorella has learned that Ryan McDonagh and John Moore are near-equal matches to Del Zotto in the offensive zone.

Just because the Bruins struck gold with Krug as an undrafted free agent doesn’t mean these types of players grow on trees.  There are a handful of guys like this in the NHL, the same as the aforementioned cannon point shots.  Once they’re unearthed, teams quickly recognize their value and lock them up long-term (see Karlsson, Erik).  Premier puck movers may not be pieces you can’t win without in the new NHL, but things are certainly trending that way.

A quick look at the UFA market doesn’t reveal much to be excited about, but the Rangers should make finding a true puck mover a priority in the draft, scour the UDFA ranks and keep their eye on the trade market.  36-year-old Dan Boyle may not have been the answer, but one might still come along.

Don’t forget, the Rangers did bring in a big point shot to save the power play just two years ago and they went 12-for-85 (14%) in Bryan McCabe’s 24 games with the club.  Obviously that’s a small sample size and McCabe’s career was days from being over, but there’s still some evidence that a big blast isn’t necessarily the answer.

25 Responses to “Finding a puck mover like Torey Krug is more important than finding a cannon point shot”

  1. Mikeyyy says:

    Maybe a powerplay coach?

    The boys looked trepidacious on the ice after a big tuneup.

    With the pieces we have, the teams strategy needs to change.

    I would say we don’t need what Boston had, we have it, we just need to use it effectively.

    And thst is where you need someone that can teach and have people buy into what makes an effective pp.

    I don’t see how getting a puck mover, without practicing will help the powerplay. 5% in the playoffs. That is inexcusable to me.

    And with Hank thinking about an extension , his news quotes don’t sound promising, we might be in trouble.

    Even Hank said it, I thought we had it this year.. This was a step back.

    • Kevin says:

      I think we’re all in agreement that they need a PP coach, but I think more changes are needed than that.

      • Dave says:

        I’d like to see more of John Moore and Ryan McDonagh at the point. Moore has that cannon people want, and McDonagh has those puck skills that they need.

  2. The Suit says:

    Would love to find a puck mover with a blast, but I’m greedy.

    The UFA list isn’t very exciting this year. Though I wouldn’t mind stealing Streit from under Garth’s nose.

    • Kevin says:

      Greedy! Don’t think many of those exist. I like Streit, but he’ll be very expensive and is a bit of an adventure in his own end.

    • Dave says:

      If they can get Streit (the guy I really wanted when they went and signed Redden) then I will do back flips.

  3. Walt says:

    Clearing the puck from our defensive zone should be the #1 issue next year. As mentioned many times on this blog, we couldn’t clear the puck, hence we were running around like chickens without heads in our zone. That is teachable, we can’t continue having MDZ making those long range passes that don’t connect, get intercepted, or lead to icing the puck.

    A puck carring d-man would be great, let McD, or Moore be the carriers, and let the team open up their game somewhat. I still believe that we need someone back their with a nasty streak in them. McIlrath, will clear the crease, and put some fear in forwards trying to hang around there looking for rebounds. Streit sounds good, but he is a bit undersized, and we want some mooses back there, no more nice guys, ala Strals, Girardi, who don’t clear anyone out. I love Danny, but he spends too much time trying to block shots, rather than dish out some hurt.

    I’m just venting here, I may sound off the wall, but it’s time for this team to get big, bigger, and biggest of them all, so we do the pushing around, rather than get pushed. You had the Broad street bullies, the Big Bad Bruins, now it’s time for the “In your face Rangers”!!!!!

  4. RangerSmurf says:

    Sadly, they had their chance at one, but drafted McIlrath over Fowler.

    I know Fowler’s no great shakes defensively, but he’s got as much offensive skill as anyone we have.

    • Kevin says:

      This is true, although Dylan is penciled in for what many consider to be an equally important role going forward.

    • Dave says:

      Fowler = MDZ.

      • HARLEMBLUES says:

        Fowler carries the puck end 2 end MDZ doesn’t.They may have looked at MDZ that way but thats not his game.That long pass out of his zone is his thing.1st yr it worked then other teams adjusted to it.I can wait on Dylan Mc. i have faith in him becoming that BIG NASTY.

  5. Arisrules says:

    Wait I thought Torts had no control over the PP, how could he deploy Girardi to the point?

    • Kevin says:

      Well played. Interesting question whose idea that was, but Torts did seem to assume responsibility in one of his pressers.

  6. paulronty says:

    Krug, Green etc, both Boston & Washington had success shooting from the point because the Rangers collapsed to the front of the net on the PK. On the other hand those teams pressured our points on the PP. You need guys back there who can read & react fast and can pass the puck well. All too often Ranger point men will shoot a little too late because the decision making process is too slow.

    • Kevin says:

      Well said, Zuccarello seems to be the guy best capable of handling quick decisions, but the Rangers certainly need a couple more guys like that.

  7. Erixon20 says:

    Exactly. Get rid of the low collapse both on the PK and even strength. It no longer works with this roster. Not only were we chasing the puck in our own end because of this system, but it limited our breakout options compounding the problem. Pressure the points and let Hank see the puck, which means clearing the crease as well. As for the PP, some movement without the puck helps, as does traffic in front. Basic stuff.

    • Hatrick Swayze says:

      Fully share the same sentiments.

      “Not only were we chasing the puck in our own end because of this system, but it limited our breakout options compounding the problem. Pressure the points and let Hank see the puck…”

      This is the #1 change I want to see take place next year from a systems standpoint. If Torts adjusts our D-zone, I want him back. If he doesn’t, I want to see what someone else can bring. I like the man, but I don’t love his systems in our defensive 3rd.

      Along with a few minor personnel tweaks, which is on Sather, that’s all I ask for next season.

  8. Mikeyyy says:

    We have lots of hustle in the lineup. We should be playing strong on the points and play a transition defense.

    Boston did it to perfection…clog up the middle and pounce on the turnovers.

    Movement, movement, movement…can’t be static.

  9. Hatrick Swayze says:

    Kev/Staff, what say you about my McDonagh theory:

    There have been a number of instances over the past 2 seasons where McDonagh demonstrated his poise with the puck on the blueline. A recent example was his step around a WAS player in round one, moved the puck down low to Zuke in the corner, who passed behind the net to Nash in the opposite corner, who put the puck right to Stepan’s tape for a deflection in front and game winning power play goal in game 3(?).

    The sample size (going back to last yr) is large enough where we can see his offensive potential. My theory as to why he isn’t used in offensive situations more, is because we have to rely on him so heavily for his defensive game- which was amplified even moreso when Staal went down this year.

    Our biggest glaring weakness is our defensive depth. If we can bring in defensively responsible personnel like a Scuderi, or a Salvador, or a Cowen (all examples, not looking into their current contracts, etc) wouldn’t it help us 2 fold. In that, we can roll 6 defense-men in all situations, and perhaps put McDonagh in situations which further allow him to showcase his offensive abilities?

    I would be much more in favor of a move like this than chasing after an offensive D player type, i.e. Fowler.

    • Kevin says:

      I think a lot of what you say makes sense, but I don’t know if just bringing in more depth is the solution. I think for young d-men that start off committed to being responsible in their own end like McD, adding their offensive game just takes time. McD needs to feel confident and comfortable and I don’t think just adding bodies to the mix helps that. He’s played a ton with a stay at home guy in Girardi and that hasn’t necessarily translated to McD pinching up.
      I think McD picks and chooses his spots, but for him to consistently be a part of the offense may just take time.

      • Hatrick Swayze says:

        If we bring in a body who Torts feels comfortable deploying, so that McD doesn’t have to be overused, we will be in better shape.

        We can get McD 2-3 minutes of PP time per game and more starts in the offensive zone if our bottom pairing is serviceable.

        In my mind, its a better alternative then chasing an offensive-minded guy. Looking at LA- Mitchell, Greene, Scuderi and Regehr all cost between 2.5 and 4 mil. Scuderi and Regehr are UFA’s after this year. Try to get a guy like that and the trickle down effect will help us.

        We don’t need much- just 1 more player who adds some size and grit on the bottom pairing and we will be in good shape. I’d like Eminger to be our 7th guy, not 6th. I’d like to never see Hamrlik, Bickel or Gilroy again. This will allow us to put McD (and Moore) in more offensive situations.

  10. Ren says:

    I am going to have to with this post here. I don’t think we need either. It has been well documented how bad the rangers power play sucks. But I think it is more about the execution; guys getting in their own heads then anything else. How long has this organization been chasing a PPQB to “fix” the PP? And more then half a dozen have been brought in and all pretty much failed to make the PP tremendously better. So in conclusion, I don’t believe that is the variable.
    Richards, zucc, del-z, McCabe off the top of my head.

  11. Ray says:

    I don’t think anyone in the game is better at puck movement than Zuccarello. Interestingly, the Rangers had 76:13 of PP time in the playoffs and Zucc played 36:14. Counting the goal that occurred after time expired but before the player could get back, Zucc was on the ice for all five PP goals. The power play actually was strong when they had somebody out there providing movement.