Although I was unable to watch the full game last night, I caught the Rangers In 60, so I caught most of the highlights. The Rangers again went oh-for-the-powerplay last night, making their stretch of games without a powerplay goal something like 700 games. The powerplay has done some good things (although last night it stunk), but the end result is what matters, and the end result is still no goals.
The forwards on the powerplay have been relatively consistent. They are cycling the puck, they are getting decent shot opportunities, and they are creating open space. That part we can see. The problem is that those “shot opportunities” are few and far between. The reason being is that when the point men do not put the puck on net, the penalty killers can cheat a little bit and cut off passing/shooting lanes for the forwards.
Therein lies the issue: the point men are not shooting the puck. Brad Richards, Michael Del Zotto, Ryan McDonagh, and Dan Girardi need to start ripping shots on net from the point with the man advantage on a more regular basis.
Why? Because it will keep the penalty killers honest. Even if the shots aren’t the howitzers that Zdeno Chara and Shea Weber can rip, they are shots that will be on net that have a chance of going in. That in itself is enough to force at least some attention to be paid to the point men.
Another good aspect of shooting from the point? Rebounds. The Rangers have scored most of their goals this year from the dirty areas on the ice. Ryan Callahan and Marian Gaborik are crashing the net more and looking for those garbage goals.
Hockey Fundamentals 101: Shoot the puck low and hard from the point, generating rebounds, and crash the net.
That folks is what the Rangers are not doing on the powerplay. It’s a bit weird because they are doing it at even strength, but they seem to forget to do it while with the man advantage. I’m no coach, and I’m sure John Tortorella has said this ad nauseum to his team, but they appear to be too fancy with the puck while on the powerplay.
As RangerSmurf pointed out in the comments of a separate post, the Rangers are simply not getting the same number of shots on net that they got last year. The conversion rate (in shots per 60 minutes with the man advantage) is the same, meaning they are converting on the same percentage of shots taken, but they are taking significantly less shots. When they take less shots, they have less goals, hence the dip of almost 4% on their overall powerplay conversion rate.
With the Rangers, it’s simple. More shots equals more goals.