New York Rangers fans were skeptical when it was announced that Scott Arniel was named an associate coach, but thus far the hiring has paid huge dividends. For those who don't know, Arniel was previously the head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets, and he had some problems with center Derick Brassard while he was there.
The two buried the hatchet before the start of the season, and since then Arniel has focused on transforming the Rangers' forwards and power play.
Power plays have induced terror and loathing in Rangers fans over the past few years, but that hasn't been the case thus far during the 2013-14 campaign. There is something different this year, and alternate captain Brad Richards talked about the power play to reporters.
Similar to Richards' turnaround this season, the team's previously-maligned power-play has appeared to maneuver an about-face. The unit came through at 6:16 of the third with a vital 5-on-3 power-play that was crisp and well-executed, capped by Mats Zuccarello's second marker of the season.
"It feels like a power-play," Richards said. "It didn't feel like much of a power-play last year."
The Rangers have scored with the man-advantage in five of the last seven games -- cashing in on 6-for-24 (25 percent) during that stretch -- and now lead the league with three 5-on-3 goals.
"We have a purpose out there and it's the same power-play every night," Richards said. "We can work together on it. We practice it every day. The guys on it, everybody's communicating in practice. Everyone has a voice on it. It's fun to be cohesive like that."
Richards put it best by saying that the power play feels like a power play this year. The Rangers are creating chances, capitalizing on those chances and they are doing the right thing. Instead of standing around, the Rangers are cycling the puck, taking a ton of shots and being active instead of passive.
Take a look at the videos below, and you will see the Rangers doing things "the right way" on the power play.
A lot of this can be taught and emphasized during practice, and that is exactly what has happened this year. Arniel has been taking care of the forwards and the power play during practice, and the results speak for themselves.
When it was announced that Arniel was being brought in to run the power play, there was some skepticism because of his rank as a coach. Arniel has been a head coach in the past, and having him alongside Vigneault could have caused problems if the Blueshirts got off to a bad start.
However, the two men have a relationship with each other, and they have worked well together thus far. What is particularly impressive is that Rangers power play has been successful without Rick Nash. Historically Nash has been an ace on the power play, and 27 percent of his goals have come on the man advantage.
Like in all other areas, the Rangers have adjusted to life without Nash, and that will ultimately make them a better hockey team once No. 61 returns to the lineup.
Success on the power play is huge for the Rangers even though it is early in the season. Last season the Blueshirts were terrible with the man advantage, and t was even worse during the playoffs.
If the Rangers can keep producing on the power play, they will win more games, and they will be a tough team to face in the playoffs because they will be able to make teams pay for taking untimely penalties.
So far, the 2013-14 Rangers have looked different than the 2012-13 Rangers, and that is something that fans should be happy about. The start of the season was tough, but the Rangers are starting to round into form because of their new and improved power play.