We've talked about how New York Rangers have been lacking secondary scoring so far this season. And in the end, that responsibility falls on Ryan Callahan and Brandon Dubinsky.
Both Callahan and Dubinsky are two of the main players John Tortorella uses on his penalty kill unit. Callahan is averaging 3:13 minutes a night shorthanded, while Dubinsky is averaging 3:06. In terms of forwards that puts them at one and two respectively, with the next closest player being Ruslan Fedotenko who is averaging 2:40 minutes with the man disadvantage.
How does this factor into their offensive game? Killing penalties is more work then any other scenario when a player takes a shift, you need to cut down shooting lanes, hustle after lose pucks and you can't get a change until the puck is 200 feet away from your goaltender.
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A shift while killing a penalty can keep a player twice as tired as a normal shift. Tortorella has elected to use Callahan and Dubinsky frequently on the penalty kill, and I can't blame him. Both players are hard workers and adept at taking care of business when they have a teammate in the box.
But it's becoming increasingly obvious that the penalty killing is causing an issue for both of them. To put things into perspective, right now both are averaging more than a minute more per game shorthanded than last year. Last season Dubinky only averaged 2:05 on the penalty kill and Callahan only 2:13.
That's a significant increase, which is also seeing the pair see less time with the man advantage. Last year Callahan and Dubinsky averaged 3:23 and 3:04 on the power play respectively. So far this year Callahan is at that mark, averaging 3:39, but Dubinsky is well below his only playing 2:37 a night.
So in Callahan's case, he's playing extra minutes on the penalty kill along with similar power play minutes to the season before. That's just extra skating that can cause fatigue, and fatigue can cause a decrease in level of play. For Dubinsky, the increased time on the penalty kill is taking away from his minutes with the man advantage, which could be another contributing factor to his slow start.
Basically, staying out of the box will help both sides of the puck. It will allow the defense and the goaltender (be in Henrik Lundqvist or Martin Biron) to play a little more relaxed hockey, and it might just get the Rangers' secondary scoring back into gear.