In The Crease: New York Rangers Special Teams Chalk Talk Edition, Zone Entries, Power Play Schematics, Nick Holden and more.

As many of you may have picked up on, the Power Play has begun to really concern me. You have a few things factoring in here to create a perfect storm effecting the teams power play. First there was ex-Head Coach John Tortorella figuring out and laying out the tape for the power play. Then you had Mika Zibanejad going down and missing some time now due to a concussion. He’s always been an integral part of the power play unit.

In yesterday’s In The Crease, I mentioned some of these issues and highlighted it on film with how Pittsburgh defended the Rangers power play. The point of that video was to show how teams are defending the Rangers power play, not how they’re playing the power play. Last night against the Capitals, the Ranger power play continued it’s anemic play though and that’s when I decided to really dig deep and break it down.

Zone Entries

Both power play units utilize a set play off of the face-off that pushes the puck back to the point from the winger who steps in. It takes the pressure off the Centerman to win the draw cleanly and lets the inside winger provide that support. When they win that draw, they’re able to establish play in the zone. However when they don’t, team’s are dumping it out and forcing the Rangers to regroup and enter the zone.


I took all of the Rangers power play time the past two games and clipped them together. The first thing I did was take out all of the in-zone play and focused solely on zone entries. What I noticed is that the Rangers Defenseman are highly patient on the zone entires and have 4-5 different looks. It’s true quarterbacking in their vision. With that said though, the Rangers zone entries are most successful when the wings are skating east-west through the forecheck. This opens up options and spreads the forecheck out. The second thing is that when the Rangers attack the zone entry with speed, they’re highly effective in gaining the zone.

In The Zone

I took it a step further and focused on play within the zone. As we’ve noted before, the Rangers are most effective on the Power Play when they are passing the puck around the zone tic-tac-toe. The issue is, teams have caught onto this and are forcing them to the outside. Both Pittsburgh and Washington forced the Rangers power play units to the boards. While no goals were scored on the power play (gulp) the most effective unit on the power play is the 2nd power play unit of Jimmy Vesey, Kevin Hayes, Rick Nash, J.T. Miller and Ryan McDonagh. They’re able to win the battles on the boards, control the puck and they’ve created some chances that very likely could have been goals and will translate into goals. With that unit, i’m not concerned.


My concern does lay with the first unit of Kevin Shattenkirk, Pavel Buchnevich, Chris Kreider, David Desharnais and Mats Zuccarello. Without Zibanejad and with teams forcing them to the boards, they are pretty much ineffective on the power play. Teams are muscling them off the puck on the boards and taking the puck away with ease. It’s with this unit, which was previously our strength, that I have the greatest concern.

This And That

GIF’s are awesome. They’re able to take 6 seconds of video and format it into a moving image so fans can get a quick look at a goal…. or a mistake. I noticed last night and have seen this for a while, that these GIFs are many times used in a silly manner. A few weeks ago, Nick Holden missed a check on an opponent and that GIF made it’s way around the web painting him in a bad light. Last night, a clearing attempt on the penalty kill that was ripped from the air by Alexander Ovechkin was put out and the recirculation of it really let the stupidity ensue. It’s obvious he’s not beloved by Rangers fans. That’s a big mistake because he’s actually a valuable defenseman. He may not be a top pairing defenseman, but Pavel Buchnevich isn’t a first liner either. The point is utilization. Nick Holden has done a good job on the top pairing with Ryan McDonagh. Especially considering the fact fans were looking to trade him for a bag of donuts before the season began. Let me digress though. The point is this. Had you watched the game, you’d have known that it was actually a really strong shift by Holden, that one moment was captured and skewed to paint him in a poor light. I’ve been using this term a lot lately, but it’s flat out lazy analysis and has no place in sports. I put together this little video here to set the record straight on the matter. It’s not that i’m a Holden defender, it’s merely the fact that there’s a lack of respect for the professional i’ve observed. I’ll take all the flack for defending it that there is on that point any day.


Keep an eye out

Three names have popped out to me who’ve been earning it lately. Jesper Fast, Jimmy Vesey and JT Miller. With Fast, the goals have been coming and I believe they’ll continue to come. As far as Vesey is concerned, it’s been a solid move by Vigneault moving him back in the lineup and he’s been flat out wheeling the puck lately. JT Miller is racking up the assists with 17 on the season, the goals not so much. However, the goals are going to come and in a flurry when they do as he’s always been a gifted goal scorer.

Side note

With a little bit of chest pounding, there’s advanced statistics and there’s advanced scouting. Advanced analytics touts it’s use in front offices and that’s true. I encourage you to view our scouting videos. I’ll stake my reputation that they have more predictive and analytical value than any advanced statistics available to you. These film breakdowns were taught to me in the room by professional scouts and coaches and I share them with you using the same test.

In other news

The Yankees got Giancarlo Stanton.

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