New York Rangers: Keeping The PIM Count Low

The New York Rangers have been one of the least penalized teams in the league this year. Here is a look at how they have done so, and what it means for them going forward.

Penalties and powerplays have a way of changing a game, and the New York Rangers know this all too well. The momentum frequently swings heavily towards the team with the man advantage, and scoring while on one is the best way to punish the opposition for their own lackluster play.

Staying out of the box is often one of many keys to a successful team, and the New York Rangers have been terrific in that sense this year.

The Rangers are the third least penalized team in the NHL. Their 354 penalty minutes are only outdone by Chicago’s 352 and Carolina’s 312. They have been shorthanded 138 times, which is tied for second least in the NHL with San Jose and Vancouver, and surpassed again by Carolina, who have been shorthanded 130 times.

For a team that has its issues defensively, this small amount of penalties has, in a way, helped the Rangers keep a decent penalty killing percentage. They are currently 11th in the NHL in PK%, sporting an 82.6% in that category.

Taking as few penalties as they have makes it less likely for teams to be able to expose their poor defensive coverage down a man.

How do the Rangers take so few penalties?

The most obvious reason is their lack of an enforcer. The Rangers are one of the least likely teams to engage in a fight this season, and currently do not dress an enforcer like they have in previous seasons with players like Tanner Glass.

Many of the recent Cup winners have iced similar lineups, going with four scoring lines for offensive depth, and not wasting a roster spot on a player whose only role is to fight. This is the formula for success in this day and age of the NHL.

Besides this aspect put forth by management this year, the Rangers also have a remarkable number of forwards in their lineup whose defensive skill is more stick based than physicality based.

While that can draw criticisms from some, it has kept the Rangers from being shorthanded more often. Players like Michael Grabner, the new and defensively improved Kevin Hayes, and even more physical forwards like Rick Nash all benefit from having high hockey IQs and smart defensive sticks.

Which Rangers are penalized the most?

Most of the Rangers penalties come from their defensemen. Four of their top five penalty takers come from that position (Ryan McDonagh, Kevin Klein, Brady Skjei and Marc Staal).

This can be chalked up as a result of the Rangers poor coverage from their D this year, and many either take penalties as a last ditch effort to stop an attacker, or as a way of overcompensating for their partner’s poor coverage.

However this can be seen as a red flag, as it points to the Rangers most glaring weakness. With that said, however, the penalty minute count is low even for the defensemen; theirs just happen to be higher than any forward on the team not name Chris Kreider.

Kreider is the current most penalized player on the team with 34 penalty minutes to his credit this year, a strikingly low number to lead a team with.

While the team may be in contender limbo this year, they have the formula for success in their grasp. The Rangers know it is no longer important to ice an enforcer, and that running four deep scoring lines wins games.

They also know that staying out of the box is key, and running this system is a surefire way to do so. Once the back end is built up to contending quality, the Rangers can be sure that winning will be a byproduct of consistently staying out of the penalty box.