SPECIAL TEAMS: (Power Play: D) + (Penalty Kill: A-) = C+/B-
It’s a yin & yang balancing act with these two facets of play again this year. Ten games in and both are holding their exact same rankings compared with how each finished relative to the rest of the NHL last season.What has been noticeably missing? Short-handed goals. (SHG)
Power Play: The power play has to get better to suck. The Rangers regular season power play efficiency last year finished at 16.8% (21st) and it is currently running at a flat 16.0% (21st).
This team has thrown good money after bad in trying to one-stop-shop a solution and it simply hasn’t worked. Neither the aging Dan Boyle, nor the discounted Keith Yandle has turned out to be the answer the team has been looking for. It might be a good idea to split them up because playing those two together on the first unit has been a disaster. It looks l to me like overkill – put one of them each on a PP unit and let it run. This power play has been bad, or worse than bad for so long, the team has just learned to succeed without it.
The good news is that a team doesn’t need a top-10 PP to win a title (See: Bruins, Kings, Hawks). The bad news is that there is this thing out there called “opportunity cost,” which the Rangers are paying. Neglecting a powerful scoring advantage eventually catches up with whomever is neglecting it and when your primary competitor within the division is pulling out Alexander Ovechkin and clicking on that same advantage at a 25% clip, it is going to hurt you.
Throw some smart money money at the problem and get someone to focus on working with those players in practice. Either that or give Brian Leetch a uniform. Do…something.
(Calling Emerson Etem: Looking for a niche within which to make an impact and expand your role?)
Penalty Kill: The PK has been strong. At present, Rangers penalty killers have killed 18 straight penalties, has improved over that stretch to an effectiveness rating of 87.88% and is currently ranked 6th in the NHL, which is just where it was in ’14-15. SO far, the loss of Carl Hagelin hasn’t negatively impacted the Rangers on the PK, though it’s worth noting that they haven’t yet scored a SHG, a category in which they were in the top-5 in the league for two straight seasons.