Special Teams

If only the New York Rangers had a powerplay

Richards who has been strong so far, has 2 points on the powerplay. Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America

Note: Goal breakdown will be up this afternoon. Sorry about the delay.

The Rangers won in impressive style in Pittsburgh on Friday night. Impressive because they were hard on the puck, they were opportunistic but most importantly when they lost their lead, they didn’t panic and worked their way back in to a solid position. They handled – at least for game one – the surges that eventually came from Pittsburgh over the final two periods. The Rangers were around Fleury all night which resulted in the game winning goal but which also begs the question; why can’t the powerplay convert?

We’ve mentioned it before but Benoit Pouliot (surely the recipient of a shiny new deal from the Rangers this summer) goes hard to the net and he gets rewarded. The Rangers best line of Zuccarello – Brassard – Pouliot are consistently a creative force and something that is missing from the powerplay, their line is always moving, always busy and always looking for the puck. The fact is, game one of this series would have been won well before overtime had the Rangers managed to convert on the powerplay. The talent is there, the execution isn’t.

The Penguins are too good a team for the Rangers not to take advantage of the opportunities that come their way and live to regret it. The Penguins won’t give the Rangers eleven giveaways each game, just like the Rangers won’t be able to limit their own giveaways to an impressively low four each game and despite what you think of him, the Rangers also won’t get a gift from Marc Andre Fleury each game. In short, the powerplay needs to come through, at least semi consistently, for the Rangers to build on a positive start to this series.

How can the Rangers correct their powerplay? This compressed series may be scheduled too closely together for the Rangers to correct it in the short term but it’s down to Alain Vigneault and his staff to do the one thing they can influence in the immediate upcoming schedule; give the majority of ice time on the powerplay to the Rangers best line.

Mat Zuccarello’s line – as a unit – has not been particularly strong so far in the playoffs but all three players have contributed. Benoit Pouliot has been increasingly strong offensively; Zuccarello has displayed his exceptional vision and shown his usual work ethic while Brassard seems to be coming on after a slow start. Given the assumed extra space with the man advantage the line’s collective creativity and chemistry should pay dividends.

The Rangers won’t get much further in the playoffs without Rick Nash impacting games offensively and without their presumptive top line as a whole being more consistent but the powerplay is the biggest concern. Nash shouldn’t be getting the 3:26 he got in game one. Stepan – above 44% in the face-off circle just three times in the playoffs so far – shouldn’t be getting major PP minutes until he wins more draws consistently. The Rangers need to be less concerned with jump starting individuals and more concerned with jump starting a dormant powerplay.

Nash is critical to the Rangers hopes, but the powerplay more so. Daring to look beyond Pittsburgh, you anticipate teams such as Boston and LA making the final stages of the playoffs. These teams will punish the Rangers physically and will try to take liberties with the Rangers. A respectable powerplay would make clowns such as Brad Marchand and Milan Lucic think twice about a late hit or a slash behind the referee’s back. If the Rangers want to get past Pittsburgh and realistically think Cup run, they need to breathe life in to the powerplay. It needs to start with the Rangers best line as it’s centre piece.

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  • They tried the Brassard unit, it didnt do much better. Problem is still with the points. Girardi should NOT be logging PP minutes at this stage.

    Another mistake by AV is not working in Diaz like he did with the 13th FW. He brings a different look to the PP.

    But now people will say he is not ready to come in. Well, that’s the point, AV should have managed that. I’m sure a Dman is going to at least need a rest with the upcoming schedule or at the worst someone gets hurt.

    • The stakes are too high to play silly games, and experiment with different players. Diaz is a defensive liability, and defense wins games, especially this time of the year!! I have to disagree with you this time my friend.

      • Silly games? is that what you called AV inserting Carcillo, etc…? It’s simple coaching. Perhaps you don’t recall Lidster? We were just lucky as fuck that we had a vet like him to come off the bench.

        Seriously though, I don’t think our defense is built on particular players persay (besides McD). It’s more how technically sound they are and the FW are provided the correct support. In fact this might be one of the most technically sound Rangers team I have seen is a while.

        A specifically Diaz, when we was given a chance on the PP it changed the look immediately. Not to knock Moore and co. but it’s not like they have been lights out. And rest means a lot considering this schedule.

        • The change for Car Bomb was needed for his physical play, and it worked out nicely.

          As for Doug Lidster, who came to us from Vancouver if I recall correctly, was head and shoulders better that Wells, that also was a no brainer. Yes I remember well that 94 team!!

          We will have to disagree on Diaz, who is again, in my opinion, a defensive liability!

          • The why go back to Miller if the opponent didn’t change? Its more then just physicality. It’s keeping you back-up players in shape for a long run. Its about keeping the other coach guessing.

            Maybe he would be a defensive liability with a offensive asset. The PP needs to be shaken up. I think you can kill over 2 birds with one change for one game.

        • We don’t have many righties on the entire team. Only 2 righty forwards. We do have 3 righty defenseman now (thank all that is good, finally) but none of them are puck moving or offensively skilled defenseman. The PP looked better with Diaz because he is all those things. Moves the puck up ice well which we usually need Richards to do. He makes a good first pass and he’s a righty shot. Having all Lefties makes it easier for the PK and the goaltender. With Strahlman playing so well it makes it tough to take any of the righty D playing every day out for Diaz. Against a tough offensive team in Pitt it’s hard for AV to gamble that Diaz doesn’t choke like Hammer last year.
          Game 1 the PP going scoreless didn’t hurt because they won and the PK kept the Rangers in the game. Hank stepped up to the plate too but in games 2 & 3 if the Pens score 4 or 5 PPG and the Rangers go 0 for 10. Then the decision might become a little easier.
          I hope they practice the PP today in Pittsburgh.

          • Very good points centerman.

            and hence my point, if AV could have worked him for just 1 game in the Philly series there would be less “what-if’s” right now.

            It is a tough call right now, I know. But regarding the PP, SOMETHING has to be done.

            We will get destroyed by Bruins if we can capitalize on PP’s.

    • I agree on Diaz. The way Moore is playing right now, he and Klein will be probably be seeing less ice time anyway. Diaz should be getting serious consideration for his puck movement and point skills to help solve the pathetic and embarrassing zone entry and possession problems the Rangers are having on the on the PP. He and Klein showed a little chemistry when they were paired earlier, so it is not necessarily a complete crap shoots putting them together now.

      I disagree on the PBZ line, though…. I think they should be given another shot at the PP… One thing is certain, what AV is doing right now definitely needs to be changed.

    • I think Diaz should get a look too bud. He’s the only defenseman we have that can carry the puck up ice on the PP and make a good 1st pass. That pass gets the PK scrambling to get in to position and then you have a scoring oportunity. The Rangers scored a lot of their PPG by bringing the puck up the ice and beating the PK with speed. We have some great skaters on this team.
      I also think it has to do with the schedual. They have no time to practice and work on the PP. That would build some confidence going into the next PP chance. Will they work on it today with no travel? I think they should skate today. They have to get that PP going. They got away with an 0 for because the PK was good and the Pens didn’t score on theirs. That may not be the case in game 2.

  • That Neal goal was questionable at best. It could have been goalie interferience, but what the hay, we won, that’s all that counts.

    I have to agree with Blueshirt in Paris on one thing, Girardi doesn’t belong at the point on the PP. Give J Moore a shot at it, at least the kid has a shot, all Dan gives you is that sorry wrist shot, now that is a joke!!

    • What Giradi offers that AV wants on the PP is a righty shot. Even when he is just keeping in. He is able to use his forehand. Stepan is the only righty forward on either PP unit so in the 1-3-1 setup having at least one righty is important. Moore is a much better skater. He’s better & quicker with the puck but he’d make 5 lefties on the PP. That’s why they can’t score IMO. They could use some practice time with this schedule they have.

  • The Rangers are the only hockey team I’ve ever seen that always seems outnumbered when they’re on the power play. The Stepan-Nash-St. Louis line has been terrible but the Brassard-Pouliot-Zuccarello line has been only marginally better. Richards wastes way too much time in moving the puck up the ice and no one seems to be able to win a face off in the offensive zone. There’s way too much standing around, one guy trying to stick handle through 2 or 3 defenders and not enough shooting! An all-around mess.

  • If only NY had a coach that could teach the Rangers to play with a two goal lead that didn’t involve just trying to prevent the other team from scoring.

  • Try Diaz for one game .Let MSL play the point .Play Step Nash Boyle and McD . 2ed unit Zucc line with Diaz and BR at the points.Or try Hags on the PP to get in and retreive the puck.Can’t win anything with out a few PPGs

  • The problem with the Rangers PP is their work along the boards. They have lots of parameter fancy pants players already, what they need to do is insert a player who can win the puck battles and create traffic in front of the net. Boyle and Pouliot would fill this role as would Kreider when he returns. Nash is also very capable, but the biggest reason he isn’t producing is because he is playing too soft and not using his size advantage.

    • With taking home ice advantage and knowing the Penguins are going to come back hard, I say through everyone for a loop. Some needed to be taken off the powerplay simply because they are not getting it done. Hell through Carcillo, Moore, stralman on it. Send a slight message. it cant continue like this.

      Same reasons as always, we dont know why it isn’t executing. Well you do know something, THAT!! So try something different. Can it really be much worse?

    • Nash also never gets the puck on the PP from MSL or BR they play catch with it . Give it to him and get open he always draws 2 men to him that leaves 4 on 2 plus it would not hurt to shoot it on net once in a while

      • Nash’s shot is what made him successful and you are correct he rarely hits the net now. I think he trying to pick corners rather then get the puck on goal. But all players go through droughts, look at Crosby he hasn’t scored yet in the playoffs, I hope he doesn’t break out of his funk in this series.

  • The issue comes down to execution, as someone said we have the players but they need to make better decisions, some of the passes they are trying to make just aren’t there. SO FRUSTRSTING. I believe they need to move the puck a little quicker and have some patience with the puck. Really hope it clicks bc 0-20somthing is dreadful to watch.

    • That is the issue but the problem is we have been scouted and can’t offer up anything else to adjust from their adjustment.

      stand up on the entry, pressure the points and overload. rinse and repeat.

  • I would like an explanation of why Igor can hit the glove hand of Lunqvist and it is not goalie interference? The Ref with the black eye, was so engrossed in making sure that the puck was not hit with a high stick, that he forgot to call this.

    Stralman gets his stick cut in half by a slash, no call is made (not that a Ranger PP would lead to anything anyway) and that idiot Pierre McGuire is laughing.

    Both that same one eyed referee AND the goal judge both missed the OT goal.

    This game reminded me of the Game 7 one, strong first period, let up in second. The third period was a wash, but the Rangers really pressed in the OT and were rewarded.

    I think that taking down right before the goal that one-eyed ref helped.

    So, how does the PP all of the sudden disappear? We were patting ourselves on the back, they brought in this PP specialist Scott Arniel, anoint him a genius, and now, they can’t shoot the puck into the Hudson standing at Battery Park?

    Then, our PK specialist,Ulf Samuelsson, also has fallen on hard times.

    What happened between the end of the season and now in both departments?

    Is it the lack of Kreider?

    I believe that the Pengoons will start being more chippy in the next game.

    Don’t let Cindy get on the board. They should focus on both him and Igor like they did on Giroux.

  • It’s tough to score on the power play if you can’t get set-up in the zone. The Pens obviously looked at the Flyers tape to see how to bottle them up at red line. On the occasions where they do get set-up they are making risky cross-ice passes which are easily defended and cleared.

    I understand the philosophy of trying to get the perfect shot but when you are 0-27 or whatever it’s time to just let loose and fire on the goalie. You can’t score if you don’t shoot. And we all know that Fleury can get rattled. Shoot the puck Barry!!!

    I am also for bringing in Diaz for a game to give a different look. He likes to shoot and he has a cannon. The 13th forward is working up front – why not a 7th D-man?

  • http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=717769&navid=nhl:topheads

    Check out the 7 second mark.

    On the first OT goal, 4 Pengoons are on the right side by the goal line. Kunitz, Crosby, Scuderi and Bartuzzi, only Stempkiak is high.

    On the second OT goal, 2 Pengoons are dancing, another dancing with the ref, again on the goal line. Only Kunitz is up high. Fleury is all twisted, doing a pirouette

    This is usually something that I would expect from the Rangers.

    Defensive zone collapses.

    Gotta luv ’em.

  • For the life of me, I can’t understand why players. Fire the puck hard entering the offensive zone on the PP. Much more effective to just lob it into a corner and send two men into get it back and then set up.

  • The biggest problem the Rangers have in all aspects of the game is that Ryan McDonagh is not playing like Ryan McDonagh. He’s playing okay, but there is nothing magical there. He’s playing a lot on the power play and really showing nothing. OTOH, the Rangers’ best playoff player, Marc Staal, is watching the PP.

    I don’t want to see Diaz. The six defensemen out there are all playing well and you don’t want to gut your fourth forward line to play a seventh defenseman. I also like AV’s open-minded approach to playing either the Stepan or Brassard line, going with the one that looks better.

  • I would insert Diaz in as well and if not I would have boyle to screen and shoot the puck from everywhere on the ice….it should be 1-2-shot, not this 1-2-3-4-maybe a shot. As Chadwick used to say, shoot the puck Barry, shoot the puck. Nothing has changed about that solution, you shoot on net your odds of scoring grow. The Pouliot, Brassard and Zuccarello line on the powerplay would really benefit with Diaz on the point on the powerplay.

  • The 1st pp set up a 1 3 1 was perfect and i said yes let’s go boys.Then no puck or player movement,same sh^t.Guys the puck must move quickly strong side to weak side thru the Defensive set up.I will say it again look a Stepans pp goal agaisnt Philly,please.Players moving in the seams of the D to recieve a pass,puck moving quickly thru those seams to the player on the weak side.The puck must move quickly with purpose.Blue line down to goal to the high forward on the opposite sides down get pass forward in front opens up for a possible tap in.Puck and player movement moves the D and THE GOALIE.

  • It should read Blue line down to goal line to forward in the high slot,forward on the opposite side the weak side sides down gets the pass and the forward in front of the goalie opens up for a possible tap in or rebound.You can run so much off the 1 3 1 if you move and the puck moves quickly.The Defense has to react move and so does the goalie.You create overloads then hit the weak and keep player and puck until you do.

  • All this controversy about putting Diaz on the Power Play point. What in God’s Name have we got to lose? Mix up some lines, call back Brian Leach, put big Brian Boyle in the middle to block the goalie; can Brad Park still shoot the puck? Anything is better then this joke of a power play! PUT DIAZ IN THERE IMMEDIATELY!
    ps Is JT Miller the only guy they have to call up? I said benching Carcello was a mistake by AV and everyone jumped on me. What does this organization have against bring up a Kristo or another player from minors. Pittsburg previously won 10 out of 11 in one stretch this season with 10 regulars out of the lineup. All we can muster is Miller? Right now in his career, he is not that impressive at all. No Boston’s Krug-like players around for the point? Put a different line combination together if need be for the PP. Just try something AV!!!

    • JT Miller will be a star in the NHL….and he has shown how talented he is. Try and pay attention when you watch.

  • Did anyone see the MTL v BOS game? Did you see those PP’s?

    At one point MTL has 3 FW’s at the net with a point shot that was scored by, guess wo, those in front.

    Why can’t we do that? Some would say that our FW are not going to the net, which is true but that is just the result of the problem. They CANT go to the net because they need to support the points.

    Both MTL and BOS have pointmen that can RUN the PP from up high. They need to be respected so you see the PK stuck in the middle trying to defend two threats, up high and down low, at the same time.

    For us they know all they have to do is pressure the points and besides McD we have no one able to avoid that pressure on their own. So our FW have to sit high for support.

    If we attempt to go low we also don’t have pointmen that are skilled at keeping the clearing attempts in. Then you add in the lack of somebody to lead the rush and gain the zone, which is preferably a pointman so he can button hook.

    I am not a Debbie Downer but we can squeeze by PIT without much of a PP I think. But we will get killed physically if we can’t make Boston pay for penalties and we know the penalty horror show MTL will be.

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