The New York Rangers enter Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals on Sunday with, statistically, the worst power play of the playoffs’ surviving teams: 2 goals on 31 shorthanded chances, for a 6.4-percent conversion rate.
The deficiency has gone from being a drag on the Rangers’ offense to being a boost to the opposition, like during their empty power plays in their Game 1 loss at the Boston Bruins.
So what’s gone wrong for the Rangers, and can it turn around?
1. Carl Hagelin Stinks on the Power Play
As Coach John Tortorella said on Saturday:
Hagelin is the Rangers’ second-leading scorer in the playoffs with five points, but only had one power-play goal in 48 regular-season games, averaging 1:02 TOI per game. So yeah, he sorta stinks.
2. The Rick Nash Problem
Nash had nine power-play points in the regular season, including three goals. He’s yet to score a goal in the playoffs through eight games, and that drought has no doubt affected the power play.
3. The Brad Richards Problem
Arguably a bigger issue than Nash has been Richards’ complete bust of a postseason, as the Rangers’ leader for power-play ice time in the regular season (9 points) has had a hellish postseason of one goal in eight games. He needs to be the catalyst for the Rangers’ power play and hasn’t come close to accomplishing that task.
4. The Loss of Marian Gaborik
In fairness, one of the players the Rangers acquired in the Gaborik traded, Derick Brassard, has two points on the man advantage this postseason. But Gaborik had seven points in 35 games on the power play for the Rangers, following a season in which he had 21 points in 82 games. He struggled mightily for New York before the trade, but there’s no question having that kind of offensive talent on the power play would give opposing teams something else to worry about on the kill.
5. Not Playing The Hot Hands
Up until this point, the guys that have been impressing me the most have yet to see an ounce of power play time (with the exception of Derick Brassard, and Derek Stepan). Isn't it about time that John Tortorella and the coaching staff completely clean the slate, and go with the players that are giving the effort out there, and getting things done? Where are guys like Taylor Pyatt, Carl Hagelin, Derek Dorsett, John Moore, Ryan McDonagh, and even Anton Stralman?
I know a lot of you guys will call me crazy for bringing up some of these names, but what is there to lose at this point? Nothing else has seemed to get anything going. At times during these last eight games, the Rangers third and fourth lines have been their best line on the ice, and generating the most chances.
So the Rangers will continue to tweak and tinker with the power play, giving the players added video work to figure the thing out. It’s miraculous they won one round with an ineffective power play; it’s hard to imagine the can win a second with the same ineffectiveness.