The Rangers are playing their best hockey of the season, and with wins in 10 of their last 11, they are easily one of the hottest teams in the National Hockey League.
While a lot has gone well for the Blueshirts over that span – they’ve allowed two goals or fewer in nine of those games, Rick Nash has produced at a point-per-game pace, and Derek Stepan is collecting points the way a number one center should be expected to – perhaps the most striking part of the recent success has been the dazzling (by Rangers’ recent standards) success of the power play.
Over the latest 11 game stretch, the Rangers have outscored the opposition 40-17. Of those 40 goals scored, 10 have come on the power play on 31 opportunities. That is a 32.2 percent success rate with the man advantage during that span, which in turn has upped the Rangers’ overall season percentage to 20.4 percent. In fact, if the season were ended today, the Rangers power play would rank in the league’s top-10 for the first time since the 2006-07 season.
Coincidence that the power play has also converted at a 23.9 percent clip since Dan Boyle – who the Rangers signed in the hopes that he would help improve the power play – returned to the lineup on November 13th?
I think not.
And while New York’s play with the man-advantage has found some consistency as of late, the most recent two games in particular have been nothing shy of dynamite.
When the Rangers faced the Panthers down in Sunrise, Florida on New Year’s Eve, the boy’s in blue went one-for-two with the man-advantage. Then in their first contest of 2015 on Saturday against the Sabres, the Rangers exploded with three goals on four power play opportunities, and the one time they failed to convert, they put eight shots on goal. It was a power play that, according to Alain Vigneault, did everything perfectly but score.
Rangers go 3 for 4 on PP and AV says the PP without a goal (8 shots), the Rangers did everything perfectly but score.
— Andrew Gross (@AGrossRecord) January 4, 2015
Better yet on Saturday, all three of the power play goals which they scored against the Sabres came in a 152 second span during the opening period of the game. While it wasn’t the fastest three in franchise history, it was the first time the Rangers scored three power play goals in one period since 2010 when they did it against the Washington Capitals.
For the first time in recent memory, the Rangers have a power play that is one to be reckoned with throughout the league. Of course there are stinkers here and there where they fail to penetrate the zone and generate chances, but for the most part, particularly recently, it has been extremely effective.
Or, in the words of Larry David, it’s been “pretty, pretty, pretty…pretty good.”
With a huge Western week on tap, with games against Anaheim, Los Angeles, and San Jose, the Rangers are going to need to continue their stellar play when up a man. A good power play isn’t the entire puzzle, but it’s a pretty big piece of it.
Things have been clicking pretty well for Blueshirts lately, but this upcoming week will be a true measuring stick for where this team is at not just with regards to the power play, but where they stand as a whole.
These next few games against some of the league’s stiffest competition will tell us quite a bit about this year’s Rangers squad, that’s for certain, and if their red-hot power play continues to soar, the results will surely follow suit.
Jake Gittler is now in his second season as a contributing member of The Hockey Writers. After spending the 2014-15 season working in Communications for Adirondack Flames of the AHL and covering the New York Rangers here for The Hockey Writers, Jake’s coverage has been switched over to the Colorado Avalanche for the 2015-16 season. Jake can be reached via email at Jakegittler@gmail.com, or on Twitter @Jgittler_hockey.