Special Teams

Special teams a major strength for the Rangers so far

ryan mcdonagh

The Rangers have had an interesting start to the season, one that feels similar to last year. The Rangers are getting ridiculously hot shooting and relying on getting at least three goals per game to get their wins. They haven’t won a single game where they scored fewer than three times, and the goaltending is unable to mask the defensive deficiencies any longer.

However the major change from last year, and perhaps the source of many of their wins over the past few weeks, is their special teams play. Last year, the power play was mediocre and the penalty kill flat out stunk. This year is a complete 180, with the Rangers in the top-ten in both categories.

Starting with the power play, personnel changes have had a major impact on the success. They have pure shooters in Mika Zibanejad and Brandon Pirri on the off-wing that forces the opposition to respect the shot. Ryan McDoangh has grown into a solid power play quarterback, able to distribute and dictate play for prime opportunities.

The recent injury to Zibanejad has lack of depth that the Rangers have when it comes to shooters, but they are still able to convert their chances with a strong net front presence and solid distribution.

On the penalty kill, not only is the personnel having a major positive impact, but a slight change in style has had all the difference. Like at even strength, Alain Vigneault made a slight adjustment to his hybrid man/zone style of play on the kill, with the defensemen no longer chasing around the ice. They stick their zone, which limits the amount of miscues and Royal Road pass success.

While we can debate whether or not the Rangers are true contenders, there is no debate that the special teams play has significantly improved. And with that even strength play trending downward at a rather alarming rate, special teams are going to be critical in getting the Rangers points in the standings.

"Special teams a major strength for the Rangers so far", 2 out of 5 based on 3 ratings.
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  1. To give the coach credit for something, he did get away from the one on one D he had the D corps play last year which was a complete disaster because they couldn’t keep up with the opponents. Going to more of a zone defense strategy makes them less disastrous than last year.

    I like Michael Stone as a potential trade acquisition because he has the booming shot from the point that no one on the Rangers has. Would be great for the PP.

    1. He has exactly 3 PPG’s in 293 games in his career. And those goals were a few years ago. Arizona’s power play isn’t very good. And since AV only plays 1D on the PP, you would use him to replace either Mac or Brady? And he’s so well thought of in AriZona that he has played less than a quarter of their power play time.

      1. That may be the case but Grabner had as many goals last year as he does this year but he played on an awful Leafs’ team.

        The Rangers have NO ONE that has a significant shot from the point especially on the PP. This guys has it and can play the right side of McD, Sksei can be on the 2nd unit.

        You are 100% correct with your facts, thank you it’s refreshing to have an opposing opinion backed up by facts. IMHO, I think a change to a different team would do Stone good. He had 40ish pts a couple of years ago so the tools are there. He has been injured, yes, but it’s a rental for this year unless he comes here and kills it, to maybe be re-signed.

        Good post pal.

  2. These are two important characteristics of winning playoff teams. They protect well and make you pay when you commit a penalty.

    If we can sustain our 5v5 play and sure up the the middle pair on defense (as often mentioned) we can be a dangerous team. My concerns are with the ability to maintain puck control for longer periods of time. This tends to wear the opponent down and I do not see more than a handful of guys who play along the boards well and maintain control during 5v5 play.

  3. If the Rangers send Girardi to Hartford are they really in danger of losing him? His better days are behind him and this team needs to move forward. Then we would have room to trade for Stone.

    1. Unfortunately, we can’t. Girardi’s NMC also protects him from being placed on waivers or sent to the AHL.

    2. Face reality – Girardi, Klein and Staal will likely be here all year.

      How do we use them effectively is the question? Shorten their minutes and give them more rest is the probable answer.

      Find a right-handed upgrade is the way to go. Where that person is, is Gorton’s job. Use Clendening in the interim, is a nice-to-have.

      Don’t know much about the farm, but is there a righty defenseman there who can help?

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