Regardless of who is behind the bench in the NHL, each coach has preferences that are quite honestly inexplicable.
I suppose in order to reach that position, one has to be confident and stick to what they feel is the best for the team.
In the case of Gerard Gallant of the New York Rangers, this quality has been on display a little too often.
Despite the power play’s lack of success (going 2-for-24 in across their last 8 contests), Gallant continues to deploy the Big Five on the top power-play unit.
Mika Zibanejad’s one-timer has become all too predictable on the off-wing. Artemi Panarin’s “accurate” shot has been anything but that. Chris Kreider cannot utilize his unique physical qualities when shots aren’t getting on the net.
Vincent Trocheck simply looks lost. The phrase “square peg in a round hole” has been thrown around regarding his occupancy in the top unit.
As fantastic of a player as Adam Fox is, he cannot be the sole creator of scoring chances on the man advantage.
Something must change.
It’s been too long
The Rangers have deployed the same top power play unit all season long, minus a stretch of three games in which Chris Kreider was injured and Alexis Lafreniere maintained the front of the net in Kreider’s stead.
After this recent stretch, the Rangers currently sit at 17th in the NHL at power play percentage (21.6 percent). The power play looks lost.
Gallant, for a reason that cannot be explained by anything resembling logic, has left the top power-play unit untouched.
I have advocated for Filip Chytil to be elevated to the top unit in the past, being that the second unit is usually left with table scraps should they see the ice at all. If not Chytil, then perhaps Kakko?
Chytil, by the way, has scored goals in three straight games and has eight tallies in 12 games since the flip of the calendar to 2023.
Kakko hasn’t faired as well. He has 8 assists and no goals since the start of the new year.
What about even strength?
The lack of maneuvering in personnel on the power play becomes, even more, mind-numbing when Gallant seemingly changes lines on a whim throughout the rest of the game.
It is hard to remember a time when one trio of players skated more than a handful of games together before being inevitably moved to another line.
If changing the lines during even strength is always on the table, then why is the power play off-limits?
These of course are rhetorical questions. Not I, nor anyone else not involved in decision-making regarding the Rangers lineup can answer these questions.
Gallant has been standoff-ish at times in press conferences regarding his constant line juggling.
That is unlikely to change, along with his deployment of the power play.
The All-Star break is in full swing. The Rangers do not play again until February 6th when the Calgary Flames visit Manhattan.
It is impossible to expect better results when the deployment of personnel remains the same.