The New York Rangers had another impressive victory this evening, defeating the Winnipeg Jets 3-0 in Madison Square Garden. Rangers' goalie Henrik Lundqvist notched his 40th shutout of his career (tied for second all time in Ranger history).
Heading into the All-Star break, the Rangers are atop the Eastern Conference with 66 points and a 31-12-4 record. Every single part of the Rangers game is stellar: scoring, defense, goaltending—you name it, the Rangers got it.
All, that is, except for one.
It is something that has been haunting the Rangers for years now, something that, no matter how many different players they have, no matter who they play or what their line is, always stays the same.
I'm talking about the power play. To be downright honest about it, the Rangers power play is awful.
They cannot score on the power play; it is nearly impossible for them it seems. They have a better chance scoring down a man or at even strength than on a 5-on-3 power play, and that's sad.
Tonight was no different. The Rangers pulled out an impressive victory without the power play, as they have done for most of the season. They went 0-for-4 on the power play, adding to the already terrible percentage of success this year.
However, watching the past few games, I have seen some successful close attempts on the power play. The Gaborik goal to end overtime against the Boston Bruins this weekend was one of the few high points for the Rangers power play this year, but tonight was not so bad.
The Rangers charged to the net and attempted passes to cutting men and put the puck in. Sometimes they were able to hit the man, but the shot either went wide or was not well-executed. Other times they just flat out missed the puck and it led to a clearing down at the other end of the ice.
Although this might not seem promising, it shows something about the Rangers that has allowed them to get to where they are at this point, No. 1 in the Eastern Conference.
The Rangers are an unselfish team, and that's a fantastic quality to have in a hockey team. The Rangers have amazing chemistry and trust one another's abilities to score goals, and would pass the puck to an open man before taking a difficult shot 10 times out of 10.
However, on the power play this does not work as well. Of course it is important to have chemistry, and to be unselfish; I'm not saying to get rid of these attributes because they are what make the Rangers great.
What I am merely suggesting is to be a little more selfish on the power play. Take those shots from the point and from side circles instead of looking for the man coming in defended by two people.
Is it fancy? Will it make it on the highlight reel? No, but it might get the job done. If the puck is on the net, who knows what will happen.
Will the Rangers' power play be an issue if they make the playoffs?
Those shots from the point could take a juicy bounce right to the man cutting in for an easy goal. Those shots from the circles could be screened by defenseman and go in if a goalie was unable to see them.
The Rangers power play is arguably the only issue the team has.
The Rangers may have success now without the power play, but when playoff time rolls around and every goal counts, it would be nice to know that the Rangers have the capability of scoring when they are on the power play.
Right now, the Rangers do not have that comfort.
If the Rangers become a little more selfish on the power play, and take shots rather than pass, they will most likely see an increase in their power play goals.
The players on the power play are not the problem, the coaches plan on the power play is not the problem. Ironically enough, it is a positive of the Rangers overall game that is the "power play problem."
If the Rangers are able to figure out their power play, and start to score from it, they will be nearly unstoppable.