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Three letters best describe the Rangers' penalty kill so far this season: Meh.
It’s been good, but not great. It can definitely be better.
Currently it’s at 82.7 percent and tied for 13th in the league. Last year, when the team finished the season running at 86.2 percent, they were ranked fifth. So this is, without a doubt, an area Tortorella is going to want to work on.
The biggest concern heading into the season was the loss of personnel. Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, Brandon Prust and Ruslan Fedotenko were all really good penalty killers, and their departures seemed to leave the Rangers a bit thin.
They did retain Ryan Callahan, Derek Stepan and Brian Boyle, which is good, but they also needed to add some help.
Jeff Halpern is a guy who was brought in to serve as fourth-line center as well as a penalty killer. He’s really excelled there and has been a solid option.
Rick Nash also has gotten a crack at killing penalties. He’s been pretty good, too. Not only has he done well actually killing the penalties, but he’s also kept opposing teams’ power-play units on their toes with his speed and skill. He’s even picked up a shorthanded tally.
More recently, the Rangers acquired Darroll Powe from the Minnesota Wild for Mike Rupp. He was advertised as a speedy, gritty third- or fourth-line guy who can kill penalties. He’s been all of that and has helped the Rangers’ penalty-killing unit improve over the past handful of games.
Then there’s the defense, who have been good as always on the PK. Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi have picked up right where they left off, getting in passing lanes and blocking shots. A healthy Marc Staal from day one has also helped.
And of course there’s Henrik Lundqvist. They said your best penalty killer needs to be your goalie, and Hank has been just that since he joined the team in 2005-06.
Bottom line here is that the PK is not a cause for concern by any means, but it does need some work. As the season progresses, and the new guys develop a greater familiarity with the returning players, this team’s penalty kill should be back or close to where it was last season.