At 7-5-1, the 2013 New York Rangers are a slight disappointment 25% into this lockout shortened NHL season. Coming off an impressive overachieving season where the Rangers finished first in the east and reached the conference finals, expectations were raised over the summer when the Rick Nash trade was consummated. Nash, plus a full year of Chris Kreider, led the blueshirt faithful to believe that this would be the year where Guitar Jimmy Dolan would be able to celebrate like the previous owners did in 1994.
However, early indications would suggest those beliefs were more based in optimism than reality. If the playoffs began this weekend, the Rangers would be the 8th seed. While the Kings took last year’s cup as an 8th seed, one of their strength’s is the Rangers glaring weakness, the power play.
So far this year, the Rangers power play is ranked 28th in the league, at 10.4% (they’ve scored 5 power-play goals on 48 opportunities). The league average to date this season is nearly 19%, meaning the Rangers have taken 4 goals off of the board by having a substandard power-play that is 45% worse than the league average.
Looking back at the past five teams to hoist the cup, the average power play rate was 17.75% when the league average the past five years was 18.05%, so the past five champions had a power-play that was on average only 2% worse than league average.
Additionally, the 2012 Rangers produced a power-play percentage of 15.71% when the league average was 17.31%. While still 9% worse than league average, it’s a rate significantly better than what the Rangers are serving up so far in 2013.
Being a very limited and fringe hockey fan, I can’t make any reasonable suggestions for fixing this glaring weakness. However, from when I’ve watched the blueshirts, it appears they don’t shoot enough when on the power-play. Unfortunately, and to my complete shock, no website tracks team shot attempts while on the power-play (but all track shots attempted overall).
Regardless, whether it’s better puck movement, scheming or more opportunities, for the Rangers to move up in the standings and once again be a legitimate cup contender, the power-play cannot continue to be powerless.