For the last few seasons, the New York Rangers have had a terrible power play, but that hasn't been the case early on in 2013-14. Last season, the Rangers had the seventh-worst power-play unit in the NHL, and they only converted on 15.7 percent of their chances.
Watching the Blueshirts on the power play was very painful last season, but some subtle changes have enabled the team to click on the man advantage.
This year, the Rangers have a coach dedicated to running the power play, and that has been one of the reasons why the Blueshirts have been successful. Associate coach Scott Arniel is responsible for running drills in practice and drawing up strategies on the bench.
The Rangers spent almost all of Tuesday’s practice on the power play. Ten minutes after they had finished, associate head coach Scott Arniel approached defenseman Marc Staal in the locker room. 11:15 on the ice, Arniel said. Power play. Tomorrow.
As a result, the repetition has allowed players to gain chemistry, and the Blueshirts are currently clicking at 20 percent. The improvements on the power play have been so noticeable that there have even been situations where the power play has failed to score but looked good in the process.
This year, players are moving the puck instead of standing around looking for the perfect shot. Brad Richards and Derek Stepan have been great on the power play, as the duo have recorded a total of six power-play points through six games.
Richards has spent an average of 3:40 a game on the power play, while Stepan has averaged 3:11. The two lead the team in power-play ice time, and the consistent playing time has really helped the two gain chemistry.
A lot of the Rangers' power-play success has come through the passing of Richards and Stepan, and that has allowed the team to cycle the puck around. The cycling has led to shots on goal, and four of them have entered the net thus far.
Ryan Callahan has been another player that has really helped the Blueshirts power play. In the past, he would set up in the slot, but Arniel has had the Rangers captain park himself in front of the goal crease.
Callahan has done a good job screening down low, and as a result, he has two power-play goals. The team announced that he suffered a broken thumb on Thursday, and that loss could certainly impact the effectiveness of the power-play unit.
Derick Brassard has also been an unsung player on the man advantage. The speedy center has rotated between the point and in the slot, and he has played a role in two of the Blueshirts' power-play goals so far this season.
Brassard is always calm under pressure when he has the puck, and that allows him to hit a teammate with a crisp, clean pass.
In the video above, you can see how Brassard has been a huge help this year.
It has been pleasant to see the Rangers power play succeed so far this season. There hasn't been a huge overhaul, but it looks like consistency of the players and guidance through coaching has made a huge difference.
Preparation and practice will allow the Blueshirts power play to remain successful, and it should be even more lethal once Rick Nash returns to the lineup.
Unless noted, all stats obtained from NHL.com.
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