The New York Rangers’ penalty kill provided an unexpected source of offense in the team’s Game Two loss to the Ottawa Senators. That success does not let their powerplay, which was unable to convert in four chances, off the hook.
The New York Rangers’ penalty killers, who had scored nine shorthanded goals in the regular season, scored twice in Game Two. The last time the team accomplished the feat was way back on May 1st 1992 against the Devils.
They also held up the defensive side of the bargain by limiting the Senators to zero goals on zero shots on their four opportunities.
Additionally, both goals came at opportune moments in the contest. The first opened the scoring for the Rangers and the second increased the lead to 3-1, at the time.
Despite their scoring prowess a man down, the team should not view it as a substitute for their ice cold powerplay.
Game Two powerplay woes
On the other side of the coin, the Rangers’ powerplay did not fulfill their end of the bargain. Like the Senators, the Rangers were unable to convert on any of their four opportunities with the man advantage.
To rub salt in the wound, the Rangers had two golden opportunities to end the game on the powerplay in the third period and overtime.
Kyle Turris was whistled for holding at 11:29 of the third period. The Rangers were then sporting a two goal lead, this latest one courtesy of Brady Skjei’s second goal of the night.
Scoring here puts the Senators in a three-goal hole with well under half a period left to play. The Rangers were unable to capitalize unfortunately, setting the stage for the Senators’ late rally.
We will never know if the Senators would have been able to score three times to tie the game. While possible, such a lead would have been difficult to surmount. However, as the Rangers were soon to find out, the Senators were more than capable of erasing the two goal differential.
As a result, the game headed into overtime with the two teams tied at five goals each.
The Senators were the only team to be penalized in the extra frames. Former Ranger Derick Brassard was called for hi-sticking at the 4:10 mark of the first overtime.
There are no hypothetical scenarios to contemplate here. If the Rangers score, they send the series back to Madison Square Garden tied at one game apiece.
Once again, the team was unable to convert on their chance. They would not get another such opportunity for the rest of the game, losing later in the second overtime period.
Penalty kill scoring a boon, not crutch
Production from a teams’ penalty kill should only ever be viewed as an added bonus. Provided that they do their primary job and prevent the opponents’ powerplay from scoring, any goals a penalty killing unit can provide are a cherry on top.
Interestingly enough, the Rangers’ penalty kill is currently outscoring their powerplay three goals to two. This may assuage concerns over the lack of powerplay production because the PK is picking up the slack.
However, the penalty kill should not, in any way, be relied upon to score; especially in lieu of their teams’ own powerplay.
The Rangers currently lead the postseason field with those three shorthanded goals. Even if they make it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final, they may not score another this playoff run.
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Statistically speaking, it is clearly unreasonable to expect a teams’ powerplay to capitalize on most of its outings. On average, teams converted on 19.1% of their chances in the regular season and are similarly clicking at 19.8% thus far in the playoffs.
Unfortunately for the Rangers, there is a large discrepancy between their regular season PP% (20.2%, T-10/30 in the NHL) and their postseason PP% (8.7%, 16/16 in the NHL).
Even more distressing and frustrating is the teams’ inability to come through in the clutch on the powerplay.
In Game One, the team did open break the ice against the Senators on the man advantage. However, like Game Two, they were unable score on a late powerplay opportunity which would have tied the game.
The Rangers do get a bit of a break for the ending of Game One, only having an abbreviated powerplay. Although, 40 seconds of 6-on-4 is a situation where any team with championship aspirations could make something happen.
At some point in Game Three, the Rangers’ powerplay and penalty kill will be called upon to answer the bell. Both will be vital in order for the Rangers to steal the momentum back in the series. This time, the powerplay needs to score instead of relying on the club’s penalty killers to do it for them.