Throughout the franchise history of the New York Rangers, the power play has rarely been a strength. Since the 2004-05 NHL lockout, it has consistently ranked among the worst in the league. Last season, fans were better off watching paint dry for two minutes than watching a Rangers man advantage; it was that unwatchable. However, this season, with the arrival of a new coaching staff and new philosophies, the Rangers’ power play is now respectable.
No one is considering the Rangers’ man advantage lethal by any stretch. It still lacks the booming shot from the point that defines the success of any elite power play unit. They still struggle at times to create traffic in front of the goaltender, and lack sufficient pure scorers on the roster. The reason why the Rangers’ power play unit is performing well, however, is simple. They are shooting the puck more and making more of an effort to get to rebounds.
So far, this has resulted in a power play percentage of 20.5 percent, good for 13th in the league. This amounts to eight goals in 12 games, three of which have come in the last two games. By Ranger standards, this is very good. If extra additions are made to the roster, such as a true power play quarterback or sniping forward, their man advantage has the potential to be unstoppable. Credit is due to head coach Alain Vigneault and assistant coach Scott Arniel for providing the blueprint and the players for executing it.
The Ranger power play may not end up ranking first in the NHL this season. It may not finish in the top-10. But for the first time in a long time, Ranger fans can feel confident in paying attention to their TV sets when their team is on the man advantage.