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.
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?