It was the best of times, it was the blurst of times...wait, no that's not right.
What am I doing here again?
Oh right, the Rangers power play.
Welcome back to Video Breakdown, where I use #FancyArrows to take a closer look at the Rangers play on the ice to get a sense of how and why something on the ice happened. Today's topic will be the recent duality of the Rangers power play.
In the offseason the Rangers signed Dan Boyle, mostly to help improve the Rangers power play, so he went out there and broke his hand a period and a half into the 2014-15 season and the power play started out looking like a disaster with no coordination and aimless chasing of the puck.
Fast forward to now and suddenly the Rangers have a lethal looking 1st power play unit controlled mostly by Dan Boyle and Derek Stepan (who missed most of the season's opening two months with a broken leg because 2014 New York Rangers).
What is it that Dan Boyle brings to the power play to make it so much better? Well, let's take a look
This is a power play from last Saturday's game against the Penguins in Pittsburgh. Dan Boyle is controlling the puck at the left point and fires a pass to Martin St. Louis. Boyle then skates over to the top of the offensive zone while Stepan rotates up to Boyle's spot at the left point.
After receiving the puck back from St. Louis, Boyle puts on this little stutter step that causes Craig Adams to engage him and open up the lane for St. Louis, who will get the pass from Boyle, to go to an open Stepan at the point or to go to the eventual puck carrier in Rick Nash down low. This forces the Pittsburgh penalty killers to be out of position and skate more.
After working the puck down low, the St. Louis, Boyle, Stepan combo get's the puck again and with all four PKers out of position, Stepan as a nice clear shot that at the net that will eventually lead to a rebound opportunity and Marty's goal off a nifty back hand feed from Derick Brassard who is in prime position to control any rebound opportunities.
This is from last Wednesday's game against the Flyers and it's one of the best things about having Dan Boyle on the power play, he's very no nonsense when it comes to transitioning from the defensive zone to the offensive zone on the power play. It helps that the Flyers were so willing to give up the blue line, but Boyle is full steam ahead from the Rangers own zone. St. Louis is also on his horse here making sure he's an option as Boyle enters the zone.
This is stemming from Boyle's carry in above, Rick Nash is going to get the puck from Boyle, who is below the goal line at this point, and cut hard to the net and just miss. Boyle then gets on his horse back to the point as St. Louis corrals the puck and fires it to Stepan as the Flyers defense is scurrying around trying to figure out what's going on.
I shared this screen cap in the comments, but I still love it, after all that hard work by Boyle he's still in great position to be the general and let Stepan know that he's got St. Louis open down low.
From the behind the net replay, you can clearly see Boyle pointing right at St. Louis (off screen) while every Philadelphia PKer is caught watching Stepan and flat footed since he sold the shot so well. It also allows Nash to be wide open at the other side of the net ready to receive the pass from St. Louis. He may not have gotten an assist on the goal, but Boyle was essential here on the power play.
That's the good part of the Rangers power play, unfortunately we also have to look at the bad side of it. The second power play unit is an still a disaster area for the Rangers and it's mostly because Dan Girardi is basically the exact opposite of Dan Boyle when out with the man advantage.
So this is obviously from the same Pittsburgh game as the play highlighted above, but I want you to pay close attention to the time left on the power play when Dan Girardi makes this short pass to John Moore in the defensive zone. This is where the power play breaks down for the Rangers, because Girardi makes that short pass the Rangers are forced to take more time to get up the ice and have less time to set up a play in Pittsburgh's end.
So because John Moore is basically given the puck at the Rangers face off circle, the Pens are able to close off any opportunities for Moore to outlet the puck up the ice with any kind of speed. The Rangers haven't even gained the red line and already the power play is basically shut down.
John Moore finally gains the blue line, but because the Pens' defense was ready, Mats Zuccarello is left as a helpless bystander when Moore dumps the puck in to the offensive zone with the Rangers forwards (Zuccarello, Lee Stempniak, and Chris Kreider) forced to chase the puck against a Pittsburgh defense that is ready to retrieve it. Oh, and Dan Girardi still hasn't followed up the play that he started.
23 seconds after Girardi dumped the puck off to John Moore, the Rangers finally have possession of the puck in the Pittsburgh zone after chasing the puck all around the ice. Girardi isn't even in great position to receive the puck or make a play.
After all of that work and all of the chasing, the Rangers finally get set up with Zuccarello sending the puck to Girardi to facilitate the power play and...he takes a low percentage slap shot five feet from the blue line that gets blocked on it's way to the net by the Pens PKer while Lee Stempniak is wide open at the top of the face off circle.
I totally understand if you guys wanted to stop reading after the Dan Boyle gushing above because working on the 2nd power play nearly drove me to tears.