Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Road To The Cup-Special Teams

With the new rules and the referees calling tighter, no nonsense type games the special teams become even more crucial. last year the Rangers did a credible job on both the power play and the penalty kill. The Rangers finished eight overall in the NHL on the power play and tenth on the penalty kill.

The power play had a rating of 18.9%. The number one team on the PP was the Detroit Red Wings with a 22.1%. The Rangers scored 83 goals on 440 opportunities. There were only three teams in the NHL with less opportunities than the Rangers. Florida, which finished 24th in PP %, Boston, 25th, and Chicago 30th. Fewer opportunities lead to fewer goals. The Rangers didn't get that many opportunities because their offense is basically a perimeter offense. The net crashers are the ones who usually draw the penalties. Outside of Prucha and the HMO line their were few crashers on the Rangers. The HMO line is gone so where does that leave the Blueshirts?

The two new additions to the top lines, Shanahan and Cullen would seem to be a positive for drawing penalties and for improving the numbers on the PP. Of the 83 goals scored by the Rangers on the PP, Jagr had 24 and Prucha had 16. That is almost half of the total the entire Ranger team scored on the PP. The Rangers got only 10 goals from their defensemen on the PP. Tyutin led with 4, followed by Rozsival with three, Poti with two and Kondratiev with one. The later two are gone from the team.

The three new additions that should help improve the power play are Shanahan, Cullen and Adam Hall. Hall acquired from Nashville had 10 goals and 6 assists on the PP. Overall he was 14-15-29 so it seems that the PP was his speciality. Shanahan was 14-14-28 on the PP and Matt Cullen was 8-10-18 and brings a lot of speed. So it seems that we could see a big improvement on the PP this year. With Jagr and Shanahan as book ends the PP could be a big asset for the Rangers. Notice I said could and that is because the Rangers are lacking a point man. Actually they have a very good point man but it is questionable whether he will make the team. That man is Thomas Pock who right now is fighting for the seventh spot on the defense. Go figure.

The penalty kill ranked tenth overall in the NHL with a 83.7% rating. Minnesota ranked first with a 87.4% rating. The Rangers gave up 79 goals which means that they had a +4 rating of PP/PK. That's just about a wash and not the kind of numbers that champions are made of. As an example Carolina was a +14 and Buffalo was a whopping +42. This a suspect area for the Rangers this year and could be a big killer. They have lost Dominic Moore in a trade and Ortmeyer will be out for an indefinite period so it will be interesting who will fill the gaps. The HMO line is gone. Thank God for the Prince, Henrik Lundqvist I who is the best penalty killer on the team. Another sad statistics that the Rangers only scored four short handed goals last year. Only the New jersey Devils were worse with only three goals.

ICINGS: The Rangers won their fourth victory in five games as Lundqvist pitched his second consecutive shutout. He was absolutely brilliant in the closing minute as the Rangers faced a four on six. Adam Hall scored the only goal and Immonen and Pock were impressive again.

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