Missing Mika Zibanejad on the powerplay

November 29, 2016, by

mika zibanejad

When the Rangers lost Mika Zibanejad to a broken leg, the Rangers lost perhaps the one forward that would be the most difficult to replace. Zibanejad is a unique forward for the Rangers not in production, but the curveball he throws to the opposition when matching up. The majority of the Rangers are left-handed, pass-first players. Zibanejad is the exact opposite as a right-handed, shoot-first player.

This is the kind of player that the Rangers sorely needed for the longest time, as he was the pure shooter the Rangers needed not only at even strength, but even more so on the powerplay. It was the most evident the other night against Ottawa, when the Rangers could get nothing going on with the man advantage.

There are now a pair of problems with the powerplay without Zibanejad. The first is that the Rangers have just one right-handed forward, and that is Derek Stepan. Stepan, as we’ve seen in games past, is a brilliant hockey player, but is too deliberate to be the go-to shooter like Zibanejad. The Stepan one-timer is rare, and simply put, he doesn’t have the shot that Zibanejad has. That doesn’t mean Stepan is bad, it just means his skill set is best utilized setting up someone for that shot, instead of taking it himself.

The second is that it leaves Alain Vigneault with few options other than to deploy five lefties on one of the powerplay units. We saw that in the Senators game, and the Rangers got absolutely nothing from it.

There are a few solutions here that can maybe keep the Rangers above water. The first is to perhaps shift the focus to Brandon Pirri as the shoot-first guy. He’s a lefty, so it’s basically a mirror image of what the Rangers were running before. However without a true right-handed threat from the other side, opposing penalty kill units can load up on Pirri. There’s good and bad there, but forcing the opposition to respect Pirri as a shooter should be priority numero uno right now.

The second is getting another right-handed, offense first kind of player into the lineup. Luckily, the Rangers have just the guy. He’s been sitting in the press box for a long time now. His name is Adam Clendening. And given the struggles of the blue line at even strength, now might be a good time to see what the kid can do. He’s no savior, but he’s a righty who can play the powerplay and can skate. He can give a guy like Kevin Klein a night off to rest too.

Losing Zibanejad hurts more than most of us wanted to admit at first. The obvious loss at even strength is noted when we see the lines changing on an hourly basis. But the biggest loss is on the powerplay, as opposing penalty kills no longer need to fear that side of the ice. It will be a tough couple of months without him, that’s for sure.

"Missing Mika Zibanejad on the powerplay", 5 out of 5 based on 3 ratings.
Categories : Hockey Tactics


  1. SalMerc says:

    Z-bad is a scorer and a guy who plays until he hears the whistle. A great guy who thinks “shoot first, pass second”. The mentality we need on the PP. Sorely missed on the PP. Not easily replaced on our PP. Hoping that a guy like Krieder can be that guy. Maybe even JT.

    We know it isn’t Stepan. Hopefully, when Buch returns, with his sniper type skills, he also can play a role here.

    We also can use some movement from the point.

    • sherrane says:

      Buch is a left handed shot, which doesn’t entirely solve the issue. The Rangers have only 3 healthy right handed shooting forwards on the current roster; Stepan, Fast, and Jooris. That should illustrate how much the team misses Z-bad.

  2. ranger17 says:

    AV will not change any time soon we all know that from the last 2 yrs Run the PP just the opposite of the way you run it Ziba only with Pirri . Dylan Glendening is not going to play any time soon ,AV does not trust him enough on D

    • SalMerc says:

      It is more about having the right players to put on the ice for that situation. Not sure we have another player who fits the mold. I actually would like to see Vesey here, even though he is lefty.

  3. amy says:

    Z-bad is sorely missed and so is Buch we need a quarterback desperately go get’em tonight boys

  4. Reenavipul says:

    Go back to 2D on PP, flip them on to their off hand to generate quick shots with a moving goalie.

  5. supermaz says:

    Wasn’t McIlrath right handed, with one heck of a shot? Just sayin’.