To say the Rangers power play is struggling might literally be the biggest understatement of the century.
They’re just 3-for-33 in the playoffs and are currently in an 0-for-25 funk dating back to Game 2 of their first round series against the Flyers.
Meanwhile, their penalty kill hasn’t exactly lit the word on fire either as they have the fourth worst success rate in the postseason at 76%.
So the question is, with the Rangers special teams having less success than the Elephant man at ladies night, how the hell have they not only advanced to the second round, but stolen Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Metropolitan Division champion Penguins?
In past postseasons, the answer would have unequivocally been Henrik Lundqvist. But not this year, as he’s amazingly not been called upon to steal the Rangers a game.
Actually, the answer is real simple. Even strength play.
Through eight games, the Rangers have a postseason best even strength goals for percentage of 66.7% as they’ve scored 18 goals and allowed just 9 when 5-on-5 or 4-on-4. The next best team is the Blackhawks at 56.3%.
The Rangers have nine players who’s even strength goals for percentage (% of goals for compared to goals against while player is on the ice) eclipse the 70% mark in the playoffs. JT Miller (100%), Jesper Fast (100%), Marc Staal (83.%), Anton Stralman (77.8%), Mats Zuccarello (77.8%), Kevin Klein (75%), Brian Boyle (75%), Beniot Pouliot (75%) and Derek Brassard (71.4%).
The Blueshirts have just two players under 50% (Ryan McDonagh (45.5%) and Derek Dorsett (0%)).
Seeing such a diverse group putting up these impressive numbers tells you all you need to know about why the Rangers have been so good at even strength. It’s not just the top lines making a difference. It’s all four units chipping in from creating offense to playing responsible defense.
There’s no weak links. The top line is just as capable of blocking a shot on defense as the fourth line is scoring a clutch goal. While on the blueline, there’s a great mix of defensive toughness and offensive potential.
What also makes the Rangers so dangerous at even strength is that Alain Vigneault isn’t afraid to roll four lines as well as all six defensemen. Which helps keep the entire line-up fresh and engaged.
Eventually, the Rangers special teams are going to need to improve if they want additional success in this series. But until they do, the Blueshirts must continue to dominate at even strength or this will get away from them real quick.
All fancy stats courtesy of Extra Skater.