The term “crazy” is defined as doing the same activity and expecting a different result. It could be declared crazy that the management of the New York Rangers’ power play has not been altered.
The fivesome of Mika Zibanejad, Adam Fox, Artemi Panarin, Vincent Trocheck, and Chris Kreider is typically present on the ice for the full duration of the man advantage.
The result? A mediocre 21.9 percent on the power play this season (a far cry from the 25.2 percent efficiency the team played at in the 2021-22 campaign).
The Rangers’ power play (or more accurately put, their top unit) has gone just 2-for-16 through their last five games. Since November 19th, the team has gone 9-for-49 with the man advantage (18.3 percent).
It has become increasingly clearer that the juice this power play had is no longer present. The Zibanejad one-timer has become predictable.
Panarin’s goal scoring is down this season (9 goals in 36 games this season, 22 goals in 75 games in the 2021-22 campaign). There must be a change.
A new look power play
The odds of Head Coach Gerard Gallant making a substitution for the power play is unlikely at best, as made clear in his recent media availability:
“No, these guys are too good to put somebody else in there,” Gallant said when asked if he would consider adding another lefty shot to the top unit (Vince Mercogliano, USA Today).
However, because yours truly likes to play “arm-chair head coach”, it is always interesting to examine what could be through hypothetical exercises.
Adding a lefty shot to the top unit should be the first move (emphasis on the word “should”). Moving Mika Zibanejad to the middle of the ice would provide a much-needed shooting threat, and would open up space for the right flank.
Artemi Panarin sliding back over to the left flank where he spent a significant amount of time last season could result in those creative juices flowing again between him and Fox.
The question remains, who would slot into the right flank? Who would be that lefty shot?
The answer is No. 72. Filip Chytil is a shoot-first player, which would be a much-needed asset with Panarin and Fox being the usual suspects to set up their teammates.
The triggerman role cannot fall on Zibanejad; having a secondary shooting threat on the power play is necessary.
Chytil seems to be the more active participant in firing pucks on the net than his usual wingers in Alexis Lafreniere and Kaapo Kakko.
The second unit would also receive a boost by adding Trocheck to the mix. With him on the left side, Kaapo Kakko would have a one-timer option for the cross-ice pass, with Alexis Lafreniere stationed at the net front (Lafreniere has shown a knack for scoring goals in front of the net).
Vitali Kravtsov will likely fill the void in the middle of the ice and K’Andre Miller would assume the role of quarterbacking the second unit.
These movements would provide more versatility on the power play and add additional shooting threats in areas where they seem to be absent.
Of course, this is all pure conjecture. The reality of the situation is no changes are imminent, per the head coach.
Frankly, with the frequency in which Gallant shuffles the lines, it is surprising he hasn’t made any adjustments.
Though we knew coming into his tenure that adjustments are not his strong suit.