In watching, and then later inquiring about the Rangers power play struggles of late, there seems to be two problems that pretty much completely contradict one other.
The coaching staff is too inflexible with personnel. By this I mean the coaches have been adamant about using certain players and not using others, even if the results suggest otherwise. How else to explain Fedor Tyutin at the point for most of the year? Or Petr Prucha and Ryan Callahan watching the power play from the bench (or worse, the press box)? All season long observers have been clamoring for different changes to the power play, but for reasons that are not always apparent, Tom Renney and Co. have maddeningly stayed pat.
That, at least, is one way to look at it. The other side to consider is….
The coaching staff is too impatient with personnel. It was Brendan Shanahan who made the point today that the power play units have been switched up so often this season, those units haven’t been afforded the opportunity to develop chemistry.
“If you’re not scoring, they’re going to change the power play up and you lose a little bit of continuity there,” Shanahan said. “What you want is a power play that works early and that you play all season long with so you know where people are and power play passes are instinctive. But we haven’t done anything to earn that sort of power play where they don’t change it because we haven’t got enough pucks to the net.”
So which one is it? Actually, it’s probably been a little bit of both. Fact is, there have been some moves that seem obvious to outsiders that the coaches have bypassed all season long—perhaps because they don’t see it, perhaps because they don’t want to.
But there have also been times when a combination has shown signs of promise but is quickly abandoned.
Of course, let’s not place all the blame on the coaches. It is the players who have often bypassed clear shots in the interest of something more inviting; and it is the players who even when they do shoot, have hit posts, missed nets, and sent shots right into a goalie’s midsection.
The power play comes and goes. I still believe that. With the Rangers, however, it’s been gone for a while now.