The New York Rangers have a wealth of offensively gifted players, but for some reason after eight games played, the unit still seems tentative. At this point the Rangers power-play is ranked 21st in the NHL with a conversion rate of 15%. The Rangers have now found power-play goal in each of their last two games, and the unit does seem to be coming together, but this team could still be better on the man-advantage, and if they get themselves on the same page they will have a major weapon.
Not Enough Shots
One of the Rangers biggest issues has been establishing their power-play, and getting their big players the puck with time and space. The Rangers have only had 20 power-play
opportunities on the season, which ranks them 21st in the league in the category, but they still have several key players who haven’t gotten the puck on goal enough. Keith Yandle leads the Rangers in shots on the man-advantage with six and Derek Stepan is behind him with five; if you look a bit further down the lineup Rick Nash, Dan Boyle, J.T. Miller, Kevin Hayes, Chris Kreider and Ryan McDonagh each have two shots to their credit and Derick Brassard has only one.
The fact it that this team tends to over pass the puck. I understand that they have to set up the play and that it’s no use to anyone shooting the puck into a pair of shin guards, but this team has to play a little greasier when they have these chances. Sometimes throwing a puck on net with some congestion creates a bit of chaos and maybe your club finds a goal. Yandle and Stepan are known for their setup ability, so if their teammates can be a bit more selfish and start shooting the puck more frequently; then this unit can explode with offense.
Pressure on Yandle
When I watch Yandle on the man-advantage he often looks like he’s trying to make some “out of this world” play instead of just taking what the opposition is giving. He is certainly one of the best offensive defensemen in the game today, and I think he has been sounds in his time with the club, but when Yandle is trying to pin every shot into a tight corner or split two defenders with a pass, it actually takes away from the power-play. He’s smooth at the point with the puck, shoots well, and has great vision, but sometimes he has to remember that less is more. On the flip side, it seems that the Rangers often try to get Yandle the puck even when it does nothing to further the play. This team just has to try to forget he’s there and just play, once they do that the guy will put up huge point totals.
Rangers’ Head Coach Alain Vigneault spoke to the media about Yanlde coming along with the team,”There’s more for him to give, both on the offensive part five-on-five, and on the power-play. Sometimes it takes players a little bit of time to get used to their new environment, and their teammates, and the tendencies that some guys might have, especially when you’ve been in one place for a long time.” There’s no doubt that the Rangers see him as part of the team going forward, so the best course of action is to keep getting him ice-time and look for him to build some chemistry. He could be a difference maker by doing a little less and just taking the lead by getting shots through to the net.
Changing it Up
The Rangers have gone with the same group of players despite some early season struggles on the man-advantage, but they do have some options with their depth guys if they want to get a different look. Jarret Stoll has been successful in his career as a point man on the man-advantage; he shoots very well as a right-handed option, and displays a certain level of comfort with the puck. In his career, the center has 147 points on the power-play. Viktor Stalberg is another option, as he has shown terrific strength and speed on the puck to start the year, he doesn’t have great career power-play numbers, but he certainly has the assets to be a difference maker. The team could also look at Oscar Lindberg, he’s been good to start the year and has great vision, so he could bring some fresh blood to the unit.
The Rangers power-play hasn’t been dreadful, but it hasn’t looked as good as it should considering the amount of talent this team has throughout the roster. I do see this team eventually having one of the better units in the league, but they have to make sure that they adjust and keep them from falling into a major funk. The best way to keep the unit rolling along is to keep it simple; once the Rangers force the opposition to back off, then they could run their pretty plays to score.