Rangers completely shake up stale power-play units

NHL: New York Rangers at St. Louis Blues
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The New York Rangers put in a long practice on Super Bowl Sunday, and unveiled two very new power-play units in the process.

In an effort to spark some life into this very key part of special teams play, head coach Peter Laviolette appears to be looking for a more balanced attack. The new set up also features both of the top two lines staying together.

Per multiple reports, this is how the new groups look:

PP 1

Adam Fox, Blake Wheeler, Chris Kreider, Jonny Brodzinski and Mika Zibanejad

PP 2

Alexis Lafreniere, Artemi Panarin, Erik Gustafsson, Kaapo Kakko and Vincent Trocheck

“Sometimes there are things inside of a line that you look at with chemistry,” Laviolette said. “There’s no guarantee that’s the path tomorrow (against Calgary).”

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New York Rangers shake up power-play units

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The Blueshirts power play is in desperate need of change. After failing to score on the man-advantage against the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday, the Rangers are now 0-14 in their past six games.

Not too long ago, the Rangers boasted the best power play in the NHL. However, this recent power outage has dropped them all the way down to fifth (26.1%). 

“It’s a lot of overthinking,” Zibanejad explained after defeating the Blackhawks in OT. “We’re overcompensating right now. We have to simplify. That’s what we keep harping on.”

The Rangers rely heavily on their first unit to score (Fox, Panarin, Kreider, Zibanejad, Trocheck). So much so, that the second unit (Wheeler, Kakko, Brodzinski, Lafreniere, Gustafsson) rarely sees more than 30 seconds of a two-minute power play at any given time. Over this recent stretch, the team is far too often overpassing and looking for Zibanejad to blast a one-timer from the circle. Opposing teams have figured this out and are defending well against it. 

I recently suggested promoting Lafreniere to the first power play unit and removing Zibanejad to force a different strategy. Apparently, Laviolette was thinking much bigger.

“Obviously, [the power play] is not at the level it was at the beginning of the year,” Laviolette noted. “It gets you the opportunity to let a group catch a little fire and push each other.”

Whether or not this move works remains to be seen. At the end of the day, it’s better than doing nothing at all.

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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