Special TeamsState of the Rangers

Where would the Rangers be without their power play?

Derick Brassard has been money on the power play lately

Encouraging signs have been far and few between for much of the 2013-2014 season, but somehow the Blueshirts remain a single point out of a playoff spot in the awful Metro Division.

One of the chief reasons New York has been able to hang around is its suddenly potent power play.  What was a team weakness for years has turned into a huge strength – and if the Rangers do end up making the playoffs in the spring, improved special teams might be the No. 1 reason.

At even strength, the Blueshirts have tumbled down the league rankings.  New York’s offense ranked 15th in the league last season, but is 24th this year.  The team’s once vaunted defense and goaltending allowed the fourth-fewest goals against last year, but is ranked just 15th during the current campaign.

But balancing out those major issues are the much-improved special teams.  The Rangers’ power play ranks eighth, up from 23rd a year ago.  The penalty kill has also improved dramatically, up from 15th last year to seventh this season.  With the rest of the team struggling mightily, the importance of those units can’t be overstated.  The extra goal gained here and there from the PP has been huge – in fact, nine times this year the Blueshirts owe wins or OT bonus points to goals scored on the man advantage.

The power play’s impact has been felt most on the road, where an extra goal can make an enormous difference.  New York already has 31 power play goals this year, up from 24 a year ago.  But they scored just eight road power play goals last year, fewest in the league.  This season New York has already racked up 18 power play goals on the road, third-most in the NHL.

We’ve all seen the importance of special teams in recent years when the Rangers have often been a very good team, but couldn’t get that crucial goal when given golden man advantage opportunities.  We’re seeing a different side of that this year, when the special teams have actually buoyed the club, and those extra goals scored and prevented have meant the difference between remaining in the playoff race, and looking ahead to the draft lottery.

*All stats entering Monday night’s action.

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  • Probably one of the main reasons for the success of the PP is that we now have someone in the slot, Kreider on most occasions, blocking the view of the goalie, and being able to get to rebounds, and convert same into goals!!!!

    How hard was that, why did it take what 5-6 years to figure that out?????????

  • Hey, lets be honest ‘where are they with it?” Improve the talent on the team first, and the powwer play will take care of itself. Its a lot better now than it was, but still, at times, its still a hit or miss proposition.

    • Leave it to the “glass half empty” guy to put a negative spin on an article whose sole purpose was to highlight the improvement of one aspect of the team. Yes that word is “improvement”. Not “elite” which seems to be the only thing you would accept.

      • They get “elite” amount of $’s in salary, the fans pay an “elite” amount for tickets, and the coach has a nice, “elite” 5 yr contract. Why would I choose to accept anything else when it comes to their play on the ice. Unlike you and a few others on this site, I’m not willing to keep chugging along on this endless road to mediocrity. When the team is securely in a playoff position, when the top guys on the team are performing at the level they should be, maybe then we can start crowing about how improved the pp is. Until then, it just sounds like a smokescreen. IMO.

        • With a salary cap league how does one team spend elite $$ when compared to the rest of the league? The Rangers Have the 16th most cap space left per Capgeek, so they hardly spend elite money.

          When did I say I was fine with this chugging along with mediocrity? This article looked at a single aspect of the team that they are now better at than last year. You spun this in a negative light, just like everything else. Yes they regressed in other aspects but focus on the topic at hand.

          • Why are you making such a big thing out of this? All I said was, even with the improved powerplay, they still are not where they should be. And reading stories about how improved they are in certain areas; or during the games, listening to Joe and Sam compliment the players on great plays and ignoring the bonehead plays, just smacks to me as grasping at straws.
            Like I said, when they’re in a position that warrants talking about improvements in their play, fine!! Use all your ink writing about it! But they’re not. They barely eked out a point vs. Columbus. AT HOME!!! By the way, how does tying up millions of $’s in long term contracts to both Lundqvist and Richards not count as spending “elite” money. And I don’t think AV is working for peanuts either, is he? Is it too much to ask that their performance on the ice, in effort alone, maybe correlate a little bit to the amt. of money being spent? Don’t know why you’re looking for a debate. Articles are written, opinions are offered. Nothing more.

    • They have the 9th best PP in the NHL operating at about a 1 for 5 clip (about 20%) on average. That’s a good PP and it’s hit or miss. Even the best go through dry spells. That’s how it goes. No PP in the league is automatic. I don’t get what you mean by hit or miss. Of course it’s hit or miss.

      • Its a hit or miss, because you’re never really sure what you’re gonna’ get from chance to chance. It can look great 1 minute, and the next they can’t even get into the zone. I don’t think they’re anywhere near the point where teams are dreading facing it. Yeah all pp’s are somewhat hit or miss, but at least the really good ones can create some consistent momentum from just the opportunity. A lot of times, this power play can sap the energy right out of the building. It is better, I admit it, but its still not anything to crow about.

      • What would you say is the single biggest factor causing our 5v5 performance to drop so sharply?

        Hank’s performance? New coach/system? Injuries?

        If you had one choice, what would it be?

        • I don’t think it’s one single issue. Goaltending has been spotty, defense has been worse, offense can’t score, new systems (shouldn’t be an issue anymore), etc.

          • They’ve been like that for 3 years now. While I would hope they hit league average, it’s not guaranteed anymore. Too many years in a row of sub-10% SH%.

          • I think it’s lack of effort. They hounded Toronto in the offensive zone and scored 6 times at 5 on 5. 7 if you count the one that was not allowed for no reason at all. Refs were thinking about their cars on that call. They have to work to get rewarded. Goals are not given to the best looking. If the Rangers skate hard, they win games.

  • So, If the Rangers have been an under league average shooting team for three plus years now, isn’t that the biggest red flag for the front office to fix?

      • I’d say target more high volume shooters? I know SH% is random but getting more players that shoot the puck would skew the odds in the team’s favor no?

        • How many times have the Rangers put up 30+ shots a night on a backup and get lucky when they score a single goal?

          Like most other aspects of this team, sh% is a mystery to me!

          • Shots and quality scoring chances are 2 different things. I can take the low sh%, if they get more real scoring opportunities. Some high percentage of their shots, while on goal, can be saved by sub-par goalies.

          • IMO the Rangers don’t have enough high end offensive talent and that’s why they have and have had a low sh %. They have to work too hard to score goals whereas teams with more offensive talent don’t have to work as hard to score goals, such as the Penguins. That’s what I believe is their achilles heel and has been since they’ve been playoff contenders.

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