New York Rangers: Three ways to improve the 5-on-5 play

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 24: Chris Kreider
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 24: Chris Kreider /

The New York Rangers are excellent on the power play situation this season. But their 5-on-5 play needs work. Here’s three ways to improve it.

In many games the New York Rangers played earlier in the season, their power play kept them in it. However, keeping games close isn’t enough because each two points is vital in this challenging league.

In a game such as the one against the Carolina Hurricanes on November 22nd, the Rangers showed that their 5-on-5 play can be strong. However, to keep that up, they’ll need to do these three things.

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1.) Clog the Neutral Zone

One of the best examples of a neutral-zone-clogging play was Rick Nash’s first goal against the Edmonton Oilers on November 11th. Check it out at 1:14:

The play started with a good defensive effort in the Rangers’ zone. After getting it out, the puck was calmly played in the neutral zone, allowing space for a pass to Kevin Hayes. He eventually had a two on one opportunity with Nash on his side, and he had a wide open net to put the Rangers up 1-0.

2.) Less Passing, More Shooting

That phrase sounds like something fans and coaches alike were screaming at the Rangers to do on the power play last season. However, as mentioned, they seem to have figure out that aspect of their game. As for the 5-on-5, sometimes in an attempt to have a perfect setup, they pass the puck too often.

In this play, it is clear that shooting the puck was the right option. Take a look at 6:44:

The shot from the point from Marc Staal was deflected by the stick of Grabner in front when he could have passed it to Nick Holden. However, that risks the shot going wide or the goaltender clearly seeing the shot because there was no screening.

Staal taking that shot was the right decision because the lane in front allowed for Grabner’s deflection and the screen in front by J.T. Miller for a 2-0 Rangers’ lead.

3.) Work From Behind the Net

The Rangers seem to do well when they start plays from behind the net. In their 6-1 bashing of the Hurricanes, Jesper Fast’s first goal serves as a perfect example. Re-live the beauty at 6:39:

This play wasn’t cleanly wrapped around to the back of the net upon entry into the zone. However, not every behind the net play starts like that, but it can still end up with the puck in the back of the net.

Nash was along the boards and got it to Hayes, who was in perfect position behind the net. He wasted no time chipping it in front to a well-positioned Jesper Fast. Fast snapped it past Scott Darling for a 5-1 game.

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While these are only three examples, there are many more that prove the importance of incorporating these strategies into their game. Overall, if the Rangers employ these three things, they should meet their five on five potential.