Projecting the New York Rangers power play units for 2023-24
The New York Rangers lineup is loaded with offensive talent, but that didn’t always translate as many had hoped it would on the power play. This is especially true in the team’s first round exit to the New Jersey Devils.
After finishing fourth overall in PP% (25.2) in 2021-22, the Blueshirts dipped to seventh last season (24.1). Despite sporting some of the game’s best offensive players, the power went out against the Devils going 5 for 28 (17.9%) and allowed two shorthanded goals against..
Looking back, the Rangers never seemed to find chemistry down the stretch after adding Patrick Kane and Vladimir Tarasenko. Every game seemed like there were new units with undefined roles. The team’s penchant for passing led fans on most nights screaming the all to familiar, “shoot the puck!”
Now that the salary cap made it impossible for the Rangers to bring back Kane and Tarasenko, they should revert back to the formula that made them successful just two seasons ago.
Which means a whole lot more Chris Kreider in front of the net. In 2021-22, the Rangers longest tenured player scored 52 goals with 26 of them coming on the power play. Last season, he notched just 8. It’s time to bring back that strategy in 2023-24.
Let’s project the Rangers power play units next season.
New York Rangers Power Play
The Rangers power play was solid last season but should have been better. Looking at the numbers, one area for improvement that stands out to me is opportunities. New York needs to do a much better job of getting on the man advantage. Much more than the 245 times they did in 2022-23.
Of course, the real question we need to ask is what should the power play units be?
POWER PLAY UNIT 1
Mika Zibanejad, Chris Kreider, Artemi Panarin, Filip Chytil, and Adam Fox.
Don’t fix what isn’t broken. The personnel on the first unit should have one new face on it and that’s Filip Chytil. The 23 year-old had a breakout campaign with 22 goals and 45 points in 74 games last year. That included 3 goals and 5 points on the power play as well.
Fox will quarterback the unit with Zibanejad in the circle ready to let loose his one-timer. Panarin will work the wall with support from Chytil, who will be in the bumper position. The key to the success remains in front of the net where Kreider needs to be the focal point.
While Zibanejad, Panarin, and Chytil need to keep the opposition PK guessing by shooting, Fox should be working to get deflectable shots towards the net to let Kreider do what he does best.
POWER PLAY UNIT 2
Vincent Trocheck, Blake Wheeler, Kaapo Kakko, Alexis Lafreniere, and K’Andre Miller.
The second unit should have Trocheck back in his familiar bumper spot. Playing the role of Kreider will be newly signed Wheeler, who notched 7 power play goals last season. He’s more of a net crasher, so getting shots on goal for rebounds will be essential.
The key to this power play working will be how Kakko, Lafreniere, and Miller perform. This unit doesn’t have a true power play QB, but Miller has all the offensive tools to become that player. Kakko is a possession machine and will own the boards to help maintain pressure to set up plays. The wildcard of the bunch is Lafreniere, who may just surprise everyone at the other point. He has the skills to stickhandle opening up passing lanes for his teammates, but can be sneaky enough to slide down and surprise goalies with a quick snap shot.
One thing is clear, new head coach Peter Laviolette can’t fall into the trap his predecessor Gerard Gallant did. The second power play unit needs time to operate in order to be successful. The first unit, as star-studded as it is, can’t be allowed to eat up 1:30 to a 1:45 every time they go out there.
You need two good power play units to be successful, especially in the playoffs. I think the Rangers learned that lesson the hard way against the Devils.