When this lockout shortened season kicked off back in January many people expected the power play to be one of the strengths of the team. Glen Sather had just acquired Rick Nash and paired him with guys like Marian Gaborik, Brad Richards, Ryan Callahan, Derek Stepan and Michael Del Zotto. The power play had to be successful, right?
Well, in the early goings it wasn't. Not even close. The unit looked a little slower than the opposition, teams were able to pressure the point and break the entire system and sometimes the Rangers couldn't even generate a good portion of time in the other team's zone.
Of late? The power play has been red-hot.
The Rangers have improved their power play percentage to 15.8%, and considering where it was just a couple of weeks ago, that's a hell of a jump.
So what's the difference? Well, it's been a few things. First of all, the puck movement has been fantastic. The Rangers are no longer just standing around hoping the guy with the puck can do something special. Guys are moving around, finding space and taking shots. Del Zotto has been making more of his opportunities with the puck on the power play. He's been shooting almost every time he has a lane, and even if those shots get blocked or miss the net it still forces the penalty kill to cover the point, which creates more space down low.
The Rangers have had a good mix of players creating opportunities, but not a ton of players actually finishing them. Take a look:
In terms of power play goals: Callahan has five, Stepan has two then Nash, Gaborik, Carl Hagelin, Marc Staal, Taylor Pyatt and J.T. Miller are tied at one. Power play points? Stepan, Gaborik and Nash lead the way with six while Callahan comes in at five and Del Zotto is next at four.
Another difference? Stepan has been acting as the pivot on the power play, and I love what I see. Stepan lines up in the high slot, and takes passes from the point and dishes them to the open man. On the Callahan/Nash power play goal against Washington Stepan took the puck at the high slot, brought it back down to the corner and hit Del Zotto with a perfect pass. Del Zotto moved it to Nash who fired it home/had it deflected by Callahan.
What should you take from this? The Rangers power play is getting there.