The New York Rangers are owners of one of the hottest power plays in the league. Is it Earth-shattering changes or simplifying causing it?
Pssssh … the answer is no!
It would be easy to say the New York Rangers had put too much pressure on themselves to impress, rather than just win games. But in the last 10 matches, the Rangers have found a way to write that correct narrative and just win, rather than impress.
The same thing goes for the power play and the team’s largest acquisition, who also happens to be a power play specialist. The narrative remained: impress, rather than just score.
The power play has been pretty good all year, including the slow start. But as first line center Mika Zibanejad put it, the team was connecting on some power plays but wasn’t using it as a momentum boost for the overall team. Now it appears the team is scoring power play goals at key times during the game which is allowing the team to rally behind and continue to win games, via Dan Rosen of NHL.com.
“The big difference in the last couple of games is the power play has been coming up big in key moments. In the beginning of the year we had our power-play goals, but it didn’t really get us anywhere to get momentum. There was still hesitancy in understanding where to go, where we are. It’s been good now.”
Zibanejad, Pavel Buchnevich and Kevin Shattenkirk have all been clicking extremely well together which has been the forefront of the recent power play success. Just the addition of a right-handed shot to the unit (Shattenkirk) seems to not only be helping Mika get his oone-timeroff, but people are cheating to his side, opening up Buchnevich on the opposite side.
“It’s the angle of how the pass comes; I find it’s a tougher angle from a lefty,” Zibanejad said. “And, with a lefty opening up [to make the pass to the left side], people will cheat over because they know that pass is coming.”
But aside from the personnel aspect, let’s take a deeper dive into why the Rangers are having more success than in recent years.
Legitimate Net Front Presence
Big No. 20 Chris Kreider is finally relishing his role as a big power forward who takes away a goaltender’s vision. Not only is Kreider just occupying space, but he’s demanding attention from the penalty killers which is allowing time and space for the perimeter guys.
A spot formally held by Rick Nash, Kreider seems to be a little tougher to play against down there.
Here we see Kreider utilize his strength to get to the net front and sweep one in off a rebound. There’s nothing flashy about this goal, but at the end of the day a goals a goal.
The Ability to Improvise
The Rangers seem to be doing a much better job this season with broken plays and with using skill and creativity to improvise. The team does not need to be set up in their set five-man 1-3-1 Power Play setup. The goal above is evidence as they just got pucks to the net and bodies moving towards the front.
In this goal, we see Mats Zuccarello use his patience to wait for his teammates to get into position. When he finds a seam, he fires a pass cross ice to Kevin Shattenkirk who then in turn rips a touch pass right back across the seam to Buchnevich for a tap in.
The Rangers supported the puck and didn’t allow Zuccarello to get stuck on an island.
And finally, it appears the Rangers have found two deadly weapons on the perimeter who can finally shoot the puck like a true sniper. Years past, no team would respect the perimeter guys (Nash, Stepan) which in turn made it harder for the tap ins and back door plays to happen.
At this point with Zibanejad and Buchnevich, the Rangers have found two outside shooting threats, which is most definitely a sight to see.
It may be hard for some of you fans, but at this point some of the credit has to go to Associate Coach Scott Arniel. There’s certainly been some down falls in recent years concerning the power play, but at this point he seems to have found a winning formula for the time being.
There’s still a long season to go, but clicking at 24.6 percent, which is good for fourth in the league, we’ll take it.