New York Rangers’ power play dream team a nightmare so far

NHL: New York Rangers at Buffalo Sabres
Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers first power play unit of Artemi Panarin, Mika Zibanejad, Patrick Kane, Chris Kreider, and Adam Fox are a who’s who of the NHL’s best offensive players. While that’s surely the case on paper, it couldn’t be further from reality on the ice.

When this group gets out there together, it’s a passing fest with little to no meaningful shots on the man advantage. Case in point, against the Florida Panthers on Saturday, the Rangers went 0-3 and mustered just four shots. The top unit garnered three of them (Zibanejad 2, Fox 1) while playing over four minutes of the six available.

It’s just not good enough.

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New York Rangers power play issues

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Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

The Rangers last power play goal came off the stick of Panarin in a 7-0 blowout of the Nashville Predators on March 19. A few days later, Gerard Gallant opted to make some changes to his power play units, putting his dream team of all-stars together.

“When [the power play] was successful earlier in the year, Mika was in his spot and Bread was coming down his off wing,” Gerard Gallant explained last week. “Special teams are huge in the playoffs. We’ve got some time to work with it, and it’s still pretty good. Overall we just want to get a fresher look and try some different units to see if they will work.”

Since that time, they’ve gone 0-9 and generated only six shots in the last three games (2-1-0). Aside from the three previously mentioned shots against the Panthers, the second power play unit has the rest (Jacob Trouba, Vladimir Tarasenko, and Vincent Trocheck tied with one each).

Simply put, that’s not going to cut it and the current configurations need a better mix of passers and shooters.

Who are the Shooters?

The problem for the Rangers first power play unit is that Mika Zibanejad is the one player willing to shoot. Chris Kreider plays in front of the net, or I would list him as someone willing to shoot as well. Recently, Kreider was voted the second best player in the NHL by his peers for his work around the crease. Of course, he’s rendered nearly useless because to a man, not a single other guy on the PP1 is willing to take a shot for a rebound or a deflection. It’s become stale and predictable.

What Gallant is going to have to do is potentially bruise a star’s ego.

Vladimir Tarasenko and Vincent Trocheck both like to shoot the puck with the former having one of the heaviest shots on the team. Filip Chytil is another player that will fire from anywhere, but among the three it’s Tarasenko that makes the most sense to move up.

That likely means Artemi Panarin or Patrick Kane will have to move to the second power play unit. At this time, sending Kane to that group seems like the right switch.

This new set up could be just what the doctor ordered and would leave both Panarin and Kane in their most comfortable spots on the power play’s right wall. That would give Fox and Panarin two options in Zibanejad and Tarasenko to set up for shots on the first unit.

Meanwhile, Kane could find Trocheck in the bumper spot or set up Trouba, who loves to just grip it and rip it from the point. The amount of rebound chances for Chytil and Alexis Lafreniere to clean up should be plentiful for group two.

Bottom line, the Rangers first power play unit is going to have to start shooting more or Gallant must make the needed changes before the playoffs start. There’s only nine more games left this season to figure out this issue.

Anthony Scultore is the founder of Forever Blueshirts and has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL... More about Anthony Scultore

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