After a rough patch coming out of the Olympic break, the Rangers have now collected five out of a possible six points in the last three games. And one of the biggest reasons for the turnaround? The penalty kill.
Since the Rangers resumed their schedule, they have killed off 15 of the 16 penalties against including all nine in the last four games.
Not only are they keeping opponent's power play off the scoreboard, their penalty kill is providing some offense as they've scored three short-handed goals in the last three games.
The Rangers are currently ranked 8th in the NHL on the penalty kill with an 83.7% success rate.
Here's Dan Girardi on the importance of the penalty kill (via Bergen Record)…
“That’s got to be the difference. Especially at this time of the year, there might not be too many power plays. So when we’re on the kill, we have to pressure, block shots and we’ve got a chance.”
Martin St. Louis, who has seen significant time on the penalty kill since being acquired by the Rangers, added this (via New York Post)…
“It’s an advantage if you know what you’re doing out there. I think Nasher has proven that he can kill penalties very efficiently. And when he gets space and gets going, he’s a guy that they have to be cautious of on the other side. It makes them think about it a little bit.”
…so I guess Callahan wasn't that important to the penalty kill. I kid Mr. Callahan, I kid.
…when you're +2 on the penalty kill over the last three games, you're doing something right. And that something, believe it or not, has been Nash & St. Louis teaming up short-handed.
Here's Alain Vigneault on why he's suddenly using Nash when his team is down a man (via Newsday)…
"It's a combination of a few things," he said. "I was talking to Babs [Red Wings and Team Canada coach Mike Babcock] before our last game [Jan. 16] and he said, 'In Canada's best interest, why don't you start using him on the PK, because that's where he's going to play in Sochi.'
"I'm not a big fan of using players in both situations [the power play and penalty kill], but I started using Nash a little bit, not just to help Babs. He had a couple good shifts, and he went over there and played well. When he got back, Zukie [Mats Zuccarello] was hurt and now Cally [Ryan Callahan] is gone. He's doing pretty good and we're probably going to continue to use him."
…i remember when the Rangers first obtained Nash, the word out of Columbus was that he's real good on the penalty kill, which I guess AV wasn't aware of until Bobcock clued him in. Nash along with St. Louis have surprisingly combined to be a pretty impressive forward duo on the penalty kill.
…who knew St. Louis' biggest impact with the Rangers through four games would be on the penalty kill?
…oh yeah, and that McDonagh guy has been sort of good short-handed recently as well.