Last season the Rangers had the fewest power play opportunities in the NHL. So it should come as no surprise that the Blueshirts were in the bottom half in the league in power play goals. Less chances, less goals. Makes sense.
But the Rangers did take a step in the right direction on the man advantage last year. In 2014-15 the Rangers scored 39 power play goals and scored 16.8 percent of the time they had the man advantage. They had their best power play success rate since Jaromir Jagr had 24 power play goals in the 2005-06 season. Whatever happened to that guy?
To say that the Rangers’ power play was the best it has been in ten years is a bit misleading. The Rangers had comparable success rates in 2006-07 (Jagr had six power play goals) and in 2013-14 to the 18.6 percent they had last season. That percentage made the Rangers almost dead even with the 2015-16 league average.
So, the power play was by no means a strength of the Rangers last season. But it looked pretty damn good compared to the last ten years of Rangers’ special teams.
And the two players that did the most to make the power play look good last year were traded away this summer.
Mats Zuccarello, Keith Yandle, and Derick Brassard were the lifeblood of the Rangers’ power play. Brassard and Yandle ranked first and second on the team in power play points. Brassard’s eight power play goals were the most scored by a Ranger in a season since Martin St. Louis scored nine in 2013-14. And Yandle’s 12 primary assists on the power play were the most by a Ranger since Michael Del Zotto’s 12 in 2009-10.
Brassard’s vision and underrated shot made him dangerous all over the ice with the extra space that the power play provided. The Rangers did well in the Brassard trade, but his vision and chemistry with Zuccarello are things that they are undoubtedly going to miss. Oh, and his shot. They are going to miss his shot.
Seriously, why didn’t he shoot more?
Filling Brassard’s role on the power play next season won’t be easy for the Rangers. But filling Yandle’s role will be impossible.
Jeff Gorton was smart to get something for Yandle by trading him to Florida before he hit free agency, but a sixth (Tyler Wall) and fourth round pick do little to take the sting of his departure away. Yandle had more 5v4 primary assists (36) than any other defensemen in the last three seasons. More than Karlsson (who played 100 more minutes), more than Josi, and more than Shattenkirk.
Yandle and Dan Boyle leaving the team this offseason has left the Rangers with just one defensemen that has scored more than six power play points in the last three seasons; Ryan McDonagh.
Brady Skjei is a fine young defender, but he has never displayed any real offensive acumen. Dylan McIlrath has a big, scary shot, but he’s not known for sound decision-making with the puck on his stick. The Rangers’ captain is the only defenseman on the roster with noteworthy puck skills. That isn’t a good thing.
With the trio of Zuccarello, Brassard, and Yandle the Rangers had an average power play compared to the rest of the league. Clearly, things are going to look a lot different on the man advantage next season.
No team relied more on even strength scoring last season than the Rangers did. Something tells me that won’t change in 2016-17.