In 2012, the New York Rangers weren’t exactly a postseason offensive juggernaut.
They averaged just 2.15 goals per game, ninth out of 16 teams. Yet they managed to squeeze out enough goals to advance to the Eastern Conference Final, before falling to the Devils in six games.
That’s because their power play, which had not typically been an asset in the playoffs under Coach John Tortorella, was suddenly buzzing like it touched the third rail in Penn Station: 13 goals on 73 chances, a 17.8 percent conversion rate.
Not bad for a team that had gone 1-for-20 in the previous postseason …
Brad Richards led all skaters with eight points. Ryan Callahan, Chris Kreider, Anton Stralman and Marc Staal had two goals. It was a unit that accounted for 30 percent of the team’s total goals for the postseason; not coincidentally, it was the furthest the Rangers had advanced in the Henrik Lundqvist era, finally lifting the Atlas-like burden of carrying the team with some special teams goal support.
Last postseason? Back down to earth. The Rangers went 4-for-44, and their offensive sputter eventually cost Tortorella his job.
Enter Alain Vigneault and … more of the same. The Rangers are in an 0-for-25 slump on the power play and are 3-for-37 overall in the 2014 playoffs. Brad Richards, Benoit Pouliot and Derek Stepan have the goals. The rest of the lineup has been well off their regular season paces: Derick Brassard has an assist after putting up 18 points in 81 games on the power play; ditto, Mats Zuccarello, who had 17 points in the regular season and has one thus far in the playoffs.
Perhaps the biggest MIA Ranger: Chris Kreider, whose injury took away one of the Rangers’ best weapons on the power play (6 goals).
(Let’s not put this one on Rick Nash, who only has one power-play assist this postseason. He had just four goals and three assists in 65 regular season games.)
Although they played well in Game 2, the Penguins’ PK has been porous this postseason: They’ve allowed seven power play goals on 35 times shorthanded, all the goals coming in the opening round vs. Columbus.
“The power play had some looks, it could have given us some momentum,” coach Alain Vigneault told Rangers Rants. “The power play ultimately is my responsibility and I’ve got to find a way to find the right trigger points to make it work and I’m going to spend the night trying to find it out.”
That night, Alain Vigneault was visited by three ghosts … just kidding, he probably just decided to put John Moore back on the point.
The Rangers and Penguins face off in Game at MSG starting at 7:30 p.m.