For the last two seasons, it seems that the best way to cause chronic eye twitching was to watch a Rangers’ power play. Perhaps I missed the angelic chant by Sam Rosen, or maybe it was the lack of production! Despite the various roster overhauls since the lockout, I am more optimistic this year than ever, at least with the power play. Quite simply, I am a numbers guy. In my opinion, the most important statistic in the “new” NHL is the power play. Let’s look at some stats:
2005-2006: 83 PPG on 440 attempts: 18.9%
2006-2007: 75 PPG on 406 attempts: 18.5%
2007-2008: 61 PPG on 370 attempts: 16.5%
2008-2009: 48 PPG on 346 attempts: 13.9%
These are regular season stats, but for the sake of comparison, let us look at the power play stats from what I feel were the best and worst post seasons (in terms of special teams):
2005-2006: 2 PPG on 21 attempts: 9.5%
2006-2007: 13 PPG on 54 attempts: 24.1%
It is amazing how healthy power play performers improve your playoff run. Not really, as it is a necessity (cough Pittsburgh). I felt these examples demonstrate the importance of big power play producers. Jagr was a monster in 2005-2006, but he only had 1 point in 3 games during that awful sweep, due to injury. A year later, he had 11 points in 10 games. Now, everyone wave an angry fist while thinking of Drury!
Given the recurri… recent roster overhaul, do you feel our power play will improve? I do. It really comes down to the experience gained by returning players, and the new acquisitions. Prospal had 7 PPG last year, and 10 goals in the previous season. Higgins put up only two power play goals last year (injuries kept him out of the lineup), but he had 12 goals the previous year, on the man advantage. Let us not forget Gaborik’s contributions to the Wild with his 2, 11, 12, 10 in his previous 3.25 seasons. That’s right. Marian Gaborik is a Ranger! I do not think that has really set in yet.
Girardi has really stepped up his offensive game, and I am assuming Rozsival’s injury woes are behind him. The key will have to be the play of Mr. Redden, or if Staal joins the power play. I am actually feeling good about the 2009-2010 Wade Redden. From what I read on early reports in pre-camp camp, he is in better shape, and has been working on his conditioning all summer (for the sake of the Tortorella system, I hope everyone has significantly improved their conditioning). I am not even concerned about the two vacant defense spots. I have a feeling Gilroy and Sauer/Heikkinen will be Rangers, post-camp. I would really like for Del Zotto to make the main club, but I am going with my gut.
We must not forget that Henrik is returning, after another stellar year. If not for Hank, this team would not make the playoffs the last four seasons. That may bring up issues of his stamina (why can’t we have Olympic hockey in the summer to ease our cravings?), and the reliability of Valliquette.. but you know what? I am not worried. I am confident that Tortorella’s aggressive, puck-possession style of hockey will not only give a significant increase in scoring chances, but it will also lead to more power play chances. The penalty kill might be a concern because Betts/Sjostrom are gone, but we still have Hank. Could we see a return of a 19% power play?