The New York Rangers have found the “Lost Art” of the “Drop Pass” and are using it to win games.
The Drop Pass is used most effectively when you enter into the Offensive Zone with the puck. By gaining the blueline, you are forcing the opposition defense to back up. Once this happens you can drop the puck back to one of your teammates, who has followed you into the Offensive zone. It is an effective “pick play” sort of speak. Your teammate then picks up the puck and takes over the offensive charge. At this time, you can go wide for a pass or go towards the net and create havoc. The puck carrier can shoot, pass, or make a play.
NYR Trocheck #16 executes the Drop Pass to Perfection
Let’s take a look at the 4th goal from the November 17.2023 game against the New Jersey Devils. You will notice the Rangers Trocheck #16 has the puck as he enters into the Devils zone. This forces the Devils Defenders to back up.
Trocheck #16 drops the puck back to Vesey #26. Trocheck #16 then continues forward essentially picking two Devils defenseman. Vesey #26 passes the puck over to Pitlick #71, who shoots the puck towards the Devils net. The Devils goalie makes the save, but gives up the rebound. Vesey #26 who went towards the net after passing to Pitlick, picked up the rebound and back handed it home for a goal. Nice.
NYR Zibanejad #93 executes the Drop Pass to Perfection
Let’s have a look at the 5th goal from the November 25.2023 game against the Boston Bruins. Notice how this play develops… Kreider #20 has the puck as he enters into the Bruins zone. This forces the Bruins Defender to stay with him.
Kreider #20, then flips the puck back to Zibanejad #93, who stickhandles while continuing into the Bruins zone. This move also forces the Bruins D-man to stay with him.
Zibanejad #93 then makes a drop Pass to Miller #79, who blasts a one-timer for a Goal. Sweet Stuff.
So why is this play not used more often? One word: TRUST
Players Trust: For this play to work, you need to trust that your teammates will be there when you make that pass, otherwise it is an instant turnover and many of your teammates WILL get caught out of position.
Coaches Trust: Coaches hate this play for the reason stated above. They don’t trust the players enough to allow them to make that type of play. Most coaches tell their players to “play it safe, dump it in, then chase after it”.
This philosophy makes not sense. You spent all this time trying to get the puck, then when you get it and you might actually have a scoring chance, the coach wants you to give it up, only to go get it again. Wait what?
Like most things in life, it always comes down to trust and proper communication. You can tell the New York Rangers have a high level of trust in one another, by seeing these types of creative plays on the ice. This bodes well for NYR as they prepare for the April, May, and June Playoff Run.
New York Rangers Record as of December 08.2023
18-5-1 = 37pts
1st - in the Metropolitan Division
1st – Tied - in Eastern Conference
2nd – Tied - Overall in NHL
My View from the Cheap Seats
Section: TV Row: PVR Seat: The Couch
Those of you who remember the Rangers Ulf Nilsson and Anders Hedberg might also remember these types of “Drop Pass” plays back in the 70’s. I can still remember watching Ulf, Anders and Bobby Hull, when they were with the Winnipeg Jets in the WHA 1974-1977.
The magic they had together, as a line, was out-of-this-world.
They just knew where each other was going to be on the ice, at all times. They would weave in and out of each lane, dropping the puck back, trusting that their teammate would be there.
Defensively the defenders were getting “picked” all over the ice and sometimes never knew who actually had the puck.
It did not matter to Ulf, Anders and Bobby who was Center, Left Wing or Right Wing. They had the puck and the confidence that their teammates would be there. As long as one person was in each lane, they could rely on this “Drop Pass” to fool defenders all the way up the ice and into the Offensive Zone. And it usually resulted in a magical Goal.
It was like watching poetry in motion. And it’s so awesome to see THE DROP PASS making its return to Broadway. I trust you’ll agree.
Quote of the Day:
"If you can't imitate him, don't copy him"
Yogi Berra – NY Yankee