New York Rangers power play presents a new kind of threat

The New York Rangers have a revamped power play, which has played a key role in their early five-game winning streak.

The New York Rangers are in an unfamiliar place.

After 17 games, their power play is one of the best in the league. A perpetual struggle for years (since the halcyon days of Jagr and Nylander), the acquisition of Kevin Shattenkirk seems to have finally solved their problems with the man advantage.

While many underlying problems remain, the potency of the Rangers’ top power play unit has helped right the ship in recent days. It’s becoming a legitimate weapon, and one that can single-handedly win games.

The Rangers’ recent tilt with the Columbus Blue Jackets was one such game. Three power play goals in the third period spurred them to a big intra-division win.

Success through personnel

The parade of players brought in by the New York Rangers to save the power play is long. Notables include the likes of Dan Boyle, Keith Yandle, and Brad Richards.

But the arrival of Kevin Shattenkirk was a different animal entirely.

As of this writing, Shattenkirk leads all defensemen in scoring, with 16 points in 17 games. Of those, eight have come on the power play, helping the Rangers to the fifth-best conversion rate in the league (23.8%).

And while Shattenkirk’s puck skills from the point are key, he has a strong supporting cast. Mika Zibanejad looks like a true number-one center. His 18 points lead all Rangers skaters, as do his 10 points at 5v4. His five power play goals are already a career-best.

Pavel Buchnevich and Chris Kreider have also found chemistry with Zibanejad, and form the top unit along with Mats Zuccarello. Buchnevich in particular is heating up, with half of his 14 points coming on the power play.

A real deterrent

The improved New York Rangers power play comes with an added bonus: it’s a deterrent. Taking cheap shots or lazy penalties now carries a real threat of consequences.

What’s most encouraging is that, while the Rangers are certainly getting more shooting results on the power play, they have a sustainable trend in place. The shooting percentage is being driven less by luck than it is skill and volume.

According to Corsica Hockey, the Rangers’ power play is attempting almost 108 shots per 60 minutes. That number is good for 11th in the league, just a hair behind Toronto. Their shooting percentage is 14.42%, eighth among NHL teams.

Essentially, the Rangers are sustaining good pressure while up a man, and shooting well when given the opportunity. It’s a good trend to be on, especially when their even-strength play has been iffy through the early season.