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Re-configuring the Rangers power play

Spot the righty (AP Photo/Kathy Willens).

Spot the righty (AP Photo/Kathy Willens).

With the exception of a few depth signings, it appears Glen Sather will keep the Rangers roster mostly intact for the 2013-14 season. Rather than take a shot at Jarome Iginla, Derek Roy, or Daniel Alfredsson (all of whom signed one year deals), the organization has instead decided to keep Brad Richards around for at least one more season. Barring a trade, it looks as though AV will have to work with what he’s got.

Getting the Rangers back to being one of the best 5-on-5 hockey teams shouldn’t be an issue for this staff. Even if there hadn’t been a coaching change, the underlying numbers suggest even-strength goals scored should theoretically rebound. The Rangers after all were one of the better puck possession teams in the league last season. However, as we’ve learned since the ’05 lockout, solid 5-on-5 hockey can only get you so far.

Ultimately, Alain Vigneault and assistant coach Scott Arniel will have to reconfigure the power play and get the boys clicking at an acceptable rate if we want to go the distance.

This past week Alain sat down with the media at the Rangers practice facility and discussed his philosophy when it comes to constructing power play schemes. To paraphrase, AV believes in order to have a successful power play, you ultimately need a balance of left and right-handed shots, otherwise it is too easy for penalty killers to block shots and cover lanes.

Newell Brown, Alain’s power play coach in Vancouver, echoed those thoughts recently in the Vancouver Sun. “When you’re trying to run a power play with five left shots, which we were forced to do a lot this year, you’re really swimming upstream. Seventy-seven per cent of the power-play goals are scored with at least two right shots, so that tells you a lot right there.” Brown continued, “if you aren’t in position to take one-touch passes and move the puck quickly to shooters and shoot off the pass, you’re at a big disadvantage.”

This is something I talked about ad-nauseam the past several seasons and it’s nice to see some numbers back the theory. With that said, if you look at our roster, the problem isn’t exactly solved. As of this writing (Sunday evening), the Rangers have two right-handed forwards (Cally & Step) and two righty defensemen (Girardi and Stralman) with PP experience. Of the four, I’d say only Stepan is really capable at shooting off the pass, and even he is more of a setup guy.

This team doesn’t really possess the traits that made our coach successful in Vancouver. As far as Arniel is concerned, the Blue Jacket’s PP was abysmal on his watch. All of which leaves me a bit concerned about our PP. Will switching from an umbrella to an overload, the 1-3-1, the spread, or a combo really be the difference maker? Are different line combos the missing link? What changes can they make given our roster limitations?

In the end, my gut still says a trade will eventually have to be made if we want this PP to get where it needs to be to compete for the Cup.

12 Responses to “Re-configuring the Rangers power play”

  1. Centerman21 says:

    It seems to me that with the right handed shots on the PP, you have to take it one step further. The best PP teams in the NHL use at least 1 or 2 Off wingers. Nash is a Lefty on the RW. Callahan on the LW would be an off winger. They are vey dangerous on the PP. If you just have lefties on the LW and righties on the RW it will be more of the same. That IMO was what made it so easy for opposing PKers to shut the Rangers PP out. Shots are easy to block and passing lanes are covered and get picked off much easier.

    Anyone disagree and have a reason why I’m wrong please let me know why youfeel that way.

    • The Suit says:

      Bigger issue for me is lack of puck and player movement on the power play in addition to lack of right handed shots.

    • amy says:

      Ithink what av will try to do is spread the power play out the way he did it in Vancouver have it be more active yes of course cally and hags will be out for a few weeks Nash will have to pick up some of the slack.

  2. Walt says:

    Hopefully there is an improvement, because we were terrible last season! Numbers don’t lie, so maybe there is a trade to be made down the road.

  3. Dave says:

    The righty thing is interesting, since Cally may be out for a bit.

    • Centerman21 says:

      Dave. The Rangers don’t have to be great on the PP just need to convert those important ones in the 3rd to ice a game with a lead or be able to take advantage of a team not playing nice. If you never make them pay for a hit from behind. They keep on doing it. Scoring will back teams off. In Wash series last season Pierre pointed out all the off-wingers on the Caps 2 PP Units. The Rangers used none. Except Nash who is an off winger. Moving Gabby to LW never worked and it bothered me. He’s always had success as an off-winger on the RW. Maybe Cally plays LW on PP for that reason. The best PP units in the NHL use at least 2 or 3 on the PP line! I think under AV you will see guys switch sides on the man advantage. Agreed?

      • Dave says:

        Obviously timing is everything, but in order to create good timing they need to be consistently good on the powerplay.

    • zach says:

      Could be a boost to Kristo’s chances of starting the season with the big club

  4. Spozo says:

    If the Rangers had a power play that was ranked anywhere close to their seeding (ie top 10 in the league the last couple of seasons) we are looking at at least one Stanley Cup final, if not more.

  5. James says:

    Wining Face-offs in the Offensive zone also helps on the PP!!
    How many of those did the Rangers win? and all the big ones in the defensive zone did we lose? D.Moore will help there if given the opportunity. I’m hoping to see the young kids win some spots. I’m not to confident on the players we have now after all the signings so far. The way it looks now the NYR are far from a Stanley Cup without some big moves. I hope I’m wrong but I just don’t see it now with out some kids coming up and 1 or 2 big trades!! and by that I mean no older players. I like AV’s style of coaching and think a different mind set will be a big plus. I think building from inside the Org. is the way to go and at least 1-2 big trades. Just my 2 cents.