Special Teams

Enough is enough: It’s time to put Kevin Klein on the powerplay

kevin klein
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

When I was preparing to write this post, the original title was going to be “What is wrong with the Rangers powerplay?” Then as I got to watching this year’s games, and last year’s games, I got more and more frustrated. It’s not about the lack of goals. Ok, that’s a lie, it is about the lack of goals, but that’s just a by-product of a critical piece that is missing from this powerplay.

The Rangers do not have a right-handed shot on the off-wing that forces opponents to respect the shot from that side of the ice.

Derek Stepan is too methodical from that spot. He rarely one-times it and is looking to set people up. That’s fine, but when he’s on a powerplay unit with Keith Yandle, it creates two people looking to set up and no one looking to finish. This works against the Rangers, and it leads to too much passing and not enough shots. The puck movement is great, but there needs to be someone who will fire away.

I look at the powerplay for the Washington Capitals as the primary example here. Alex Ovechkin skews this a bit, but the overall process is that they overload the right side, and then feed Ovechkin for shots. Ovechkin’s job is to fire away, which creates goals, rebounds, and open ice for his teammates. The Rangers do not have this.

Enter Kevin Klein, who has a great shot and is always looking to shoot. Remember this goal from the season opener against the Hawks?

Klein entered the zone, read the play, and recognized that Yandle would need to feed him the puck. Klein drifted backwards to give Yandle a better passing lane, and then fired his shot from the circle. It deflected off a defenseman and beat Corey Crawford.

The same concept applies to the powerplay. Have Klein set up at the top of the circle on the off-wing, adjusting based on puck location as per standard powerplay setup. Get him the puck, and have him fire away. This won’t force someone to shadow him –which by the way, is never the answer– but it will force the opposing PK to respect the shot. It adds an extra element to the arsenal, and opens up more options.

Josh touched on the need for a booming right-handed shot this week, and it truly is the one thing that is missing from the Rangers powerplay. Kevin Klein is the only player on the Rangers roster that fits all the needs to fill this hole. Nothing else has worked. Why not give this a try?

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  • Agreed, Kleiner needs to be on the PP… Also, If Raffi Diaz gets the nod eventually, I wouldn;t mind seeing him on the PP.. He can bomb from the point as well.

  • Dave, what do ya think about this schematic that I threw up in the comments on Josh’s article that you linked:

    Nash – Brassard – Zuc
    Klein – Yandle

    Run it umbrella style. Yandle at the top (far and away our best distributor and the guy we need to run this thing around) flanked by Brassard on the top right circle (our best shot and #1 scoring threat) across from Klein in Ovie’s office, aka the top left circle (as he is our best right handed threat.

    Personally, I’d like to see Hayes on the first unit, but being a realist, let’s pencil in Nash and Zuc, who will shuffle between their respective corners, for puck support, in front of the net for screens / havoc, and high slot, to give Yandle a 3rd option, as we’ve seen the Rangers PP like to employ that formation in the past.

    • Looks good, but I think you need to replace Zucc with Kreider and run it 1-3-1. Need someone in front of the net, and Zucc/Brass are redundant.

      • To me, Miller/Hayes > Kreider given their passing/vision/puck retention, etc. Kreider is usually good for a few rough touches a game. Admittedly, I’m probably being a little harsh on him, but he’s not my favorite option if he isn’t shooting

    • Not so much wanted to as will have to sooner or later, unless they can find a taker for Girardi.

      Klein is simply the most moveable contract.

    • Still think he should have been, assuming the team is committed to Dan Girardi, for better or for worse.

      My take has always been move Girardi, but that doesn’t seem like it will ever happen. The need to open cap space and a spot on the blue line is real, and Klein is the most moveable piece.

      Even with Boyle retiring next year, they need spots for McIlrath, Skjei, and possibly Graves.

      • All true Dave, but the need to create that cap space doesn’t exist at the moment, especially now that Glass has been sent to Hartford. I can’t speak for all of us, but many of us in the “Keep Klein” camp acknowledge he likely will be a cap casualty by next summer, and possibly prior to the deadline depending on the health and performance of other players both on the Rangers and the W-Pack. So trading him likely will happen….it just can’t and shouldn’t now. Clearly it would weaken the defense at a time when many of them are still recovering from off-season surgeries. So why do it?

        As for Girardi, as I understand it from a contract perspective, the Rangers are committed to him through the end of next season due to his NMC. Beyond that, they may be able to get out of the deal since he would than have a limited NTC.

        • if they can get rid of Girardi and keep Klein, I’m all for it. Klein > Girardi. I’m just under the assumption they won’t be able to.

        • They have cap room to call somebody up, but they don’t have room to do much in the trade department if you think the team is flawed.

          • Exactly, but that’s my point. I’m fine with trading Klein if there is another NHL asset out there that can not only replace him bit make the team better in the here and now. That, however, would be hard to find right now I would imagine, especially on defense. Who can you find who’s as good if not better than Klein at that cap hit? Unless you are absolutely sure about McIlrath and sure that Girardi and McDonagh are 100% health wise, I think they need to hold for now and assess their potential needs first before making a trade.

  • The pp in today’s nhl is about the unfettered shot. Making the open man take the shot. Doesn’t matter where it’s from. You need to fire picks at the net.

    Let me elaborate. If you have a power play that scores on every 3rd shot. Then you need to make sure you get a few shots on goal to convert.

    If your scoring on every 10th shot. Them you need to put rubber on the net. As much and as often as possible.

    Now here is the rub. It is much harder to find people to fill roles to get a pp to score on every 3rd shot. It is much easier to adopt a strategery that puts rubber on net a lot. You can tinker but you need shots on goal for the nyr pp to be successful.

    Tee it up. Grip it and rip it.

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