The New York Rangers under John Tortorella preach accountability to their players. If you aren’t playing well you may not be playing at all. Take Brad Richards for example; Thursday night Tortorella’s favorite son played one shift in the third period after struggling through another mostly uninspired performance in periods one and two. I have no problem with that. The players seem to not have a problem with that. Tortorella is very open about what he expects from each player and as professionals these players know when they aren’t meeting the coach’s expectations. That’s accountability. Unfortunately that accountability isn’t carrying over to the coaching staff when it comes to the putrid Rangers power play.
There is no reason a team with Rick Nash, Marian Gaborik, Brad Richards, Michael Del Zotto, and Ryan Callahan should be converting at a rate of less than 10% on the power play. None. Of course you could argue it’s early in the season and that it might take time to get everyone on the same page. I would say that’s BS.
You look at this power play and it looks completely disjointed more often than not. They don’t bring the puck up the ice as a unit. When they get into the offensive zone they tend to stand around. They make passes as if they have no idea where their target is. There seems to be no communication at all on the ice. When they make a good play it’s usually because of an outstanding individual effort and not due to teamwork.
Think about what a good man advantage attack can do for a team. It can turn momentum when the game is going the wrong way. It can open up the ice for your top skill players because opponents are afraid of defending too closely for fear of taking penalties and giving man-advantage opportunities. It puts goals on the board and the team that scores more of those wins. Teams with good power plays are usually good teams.
The floundering PP isn’t a recent development. In 2009 – 2010 the Rangers PP converted at a rate of 18.3%. That was good for 13th in the NHL. Since then the man-advantage conversion rate has regressed each of the next two seasons. Last year it was at 15.7%. That represents the exact opposite of progress by the way.
Mike Sullivan is supposed to be in charge of the PP and it stinks. If Mike Sullivan was a player and he was performing this poorly he’d be sitting on the bench or watching from the press box. Isn’t it time that happened here to the coach responsible for a god-awful power play attack?
I’m not saying the Rangers should fire Sullivan. I do think he’s a great coach in aspects other than the PP. But maybe it’s time to bring in someone else to oversee the PP. The Rangers go against the grain by having only Tortorella and Sullivan behind the bench during games. Their second assistant coach is Jim Schoenfeld but he has a full plate. In addition to his assistant coaching duties Schoenfeld is the GM of the Rangers AHL affiliate in Connecticut while also serving as both the assistant general manager and director of player personnel for the club. To say he’s a busy guy would be an understatement.
Maybe it’s time to go outside the organization and bring in a new voice for the pathetic power play. Perhaps the Rangers should hire someone else who can devote his full attention to fixing the biggest problem on this team. Maybe it’s time the Rangers coaches are held accountable for failing to put a potent power play on the ice. If the organization wants to hold their players accountable they should do the same for their coaches.
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