clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Rangers Analysis: Yandle and the Blueshirts' Power Play

New, comments

Yandle might just be the solution the Rangers' power play has needed, but whether or not it succeeds is not and cannot be on his shoulders alone.

Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

There has been plenty of talk about the additions and subtractions from last season's roster on the blog after the flurry of activity on Draft Day and July 1st, but a lot of us are forgetting about one of the biggest storylines heading into next season- the Rangers will have an acclimated Keith Yandle on the blue line for an entire season.

When the Rangers acquired Yandle the most hopeful and desperate among us were hoping that the addition of the Bostonian defenseman would fix all of the club's power play woes in the way that adding Bryan McCabe, Brad Richards, Dan Boyle, and Martin St. Louis didn't. And really, you can't blame those of us who were hoping for Yandle to serve as the several missing puzzle pieces to the Rangers' maddeningly ineffective power play. One-third of Yandle's 67 career goals have come on the power play and since 2008-09 only one defenseman in the league has scored more points on the power play than Yandle's 136 in 529 games. Which defenseman has been more productive on the PP since that season? Dan Boyle.

In 21 games with the Rangers last regular season Keith Yandle scored a disappointing 3 points on the power play and in 19 games in the 2015 Playoffs Yandle picked up 4 more points on the man advantage. Yandle lead all Rangers in PP TOI/G after he was acquired from the Arizona Coyotes but was 7th on the club in that category in the postseason and was on the ice when the odds were stacked in the Rangers' favor 0:46 fewer seconds than his PP TOI/G in the regular season. Derick Brassard, Derek Stepan, Chris Kreider, Dan Boyle, Mats Zuccarello, and Martin St. Louis were all used on the power play more frequently (when Zuccarello was in the lineup) than Keith Yandle was in the 2015 Playoffs. The same thing cannot be true if the Rangers want to see their power play turn around in 2015-16.

<iframe src="http://video.nhl.com/videocenter/embed?playlist=2014030316-475-h" frameborder="0" width="640" height="395"></iframe>

Get pucks to the net where they can do some damage.

At 28 years old, Keith Yandle is comfortably within what most analysts agree are the prime years of his playing career. He has a well-established history of power play production, if not dominance, and should be a dangerous weapon for the Rangers when they are on the man advantage. However, the success of the power play does not and should not fall solely on the shoulders of Keith Yandle or any other Ranger next season.

Season

PP %

Leading PP Scorer

2010-11

16.9%

Gaborik, 16 points

2011-12

15.7%

Richards, 24 points

2012-13

15.7%

Stepan, 10 points

2013-14

18.2%

Richards, 19 points

2014-15

16.8%

Brassard, 18 points

As you can see, despite having some marquee players take to the ice on the power play, the Rangers have been underachieving when their opponents have someone in the penalty box for quite some time. Even in 2013-14 with a success rate of 18.2% the Rangers finished only 15th in the league in power play efficiency. When you pair an infamously inconsistent power play with the fact that the Rangers had the 5th fewest power play opportunities last season, the lack of impact that the Rangers' have on the man advantage comes clearly into focus. We've seen enough of a rotating cast on the power play over the past five seasons or so to know that the issue clearly isn't the sole responsibility of personnel, the bulk of the problem lies with the Rangers' coaching staff and their failure to successfully prepare the offensive aspect of the club's special teams play to terrorize the opposition when hard work and sustained pressure earns the Rangers a power play.

Keith Yandle represents a multi-dimensional threat on the power play because of his ability to move the puck and the confidence that he has when it is on the blade of his stick.

Yandle Wants the Puck

It's nice to see someone wanting the puck on the power play.

The mistake that most people make regarding Yandle and his lethality on the power play is that he is makes his mark with power play goals from the blue line and that is simply not the case. Of the 136 points that Yandle has piled up on the man advantage since 2008-09 only 19 of them have been goals. Yandle makes his impact by getting pucks to the net for deflections and rebounds and by moving the puck with confidence and skill to open players. What do all of those assists suggest? Yandle working exceedingly well in his role on the Coyotes' power play. Without the players who played around him doing their job and being coached in such a way that catalyzed and facilitated success, Yandle would not have the kind of gaudy power play production that he has had in his NHL career.The fact that he has had the kind of success that he had prior to being traded to the Rangers last season speaks volumes about his ability, especially when considering the team he was playing for and the lack of high-end talent that the Arizona Coyotes have had since dinosaurs marauded the planet.

A possible explanation for Yandle's drop in power play ice time in the 2015 postseason is the injury he sustained in the series against the Penguins after a run-in with Blake Comeau. However, if the Rangers want to have a power play that finishes better than 20th in the league next season they have to have Yandle on the ice for their power plays as much as possible. If the Rangers' coaching staff can't find a way to make a power play that has Keith Yandle managing the puck more successful than it was last season (and in the 2015 Playoffs) than there is a problem that goes much deeper than the players on the ice. Although, given the sporadic and ultimately disappointing power play numbers in recent history it is quite clear that that problem already exists and we can only hope that steps have been made by the men who wear suits and ties to step up their game, do their home work, and help the power play be as successful as it can and should be.

Great teams don't necessarily have great power plays (Chicago was 19th in PP% in 2014-15), but when your offense at even strength goes cold and betrays you it helps a lot if you can look to your power play to get you on the board in the way that teams like division rivals the Capitals and the Flyers do and have done for several seasons. With players like Yandle, Mats Zuccarello, and Derick Brassard on the roster the Rangers really ought to have, at the very least, an average power play unit. Let's just hope that it finds a way to exceed our very modest expectations. If it does manage to do that, there is little doubt that Keith Yandle will be right in the thick of it, making the plays that made him so desirable to Glen Sather and the Rangers' management group on last season's trade deadline day.

As always thank you for reading and let's go Rangers.