Maybe it’s because the Devils’ penalty kill is the worst in the NHL, but the Rangers’ power play has never looked stronger than it did during this past four-game series against New Jersey.
Yes, the Devils’ own a league-worst 70.2 penalty-kill percentage and 0.84 power-play goals against average per game. And the Blueshirts’ man-advantage units performed exactly as they should against a struggling penalty kill.
“I think we move the puck, we attack, we obviously have some set plays, some things that we’re looking for depending on what their PK is doing,” said Mika Zibanejad, whose power-play goal in the third period proved to be the game-winner on Sunday. “I think just a lot higher tempo, not just skating but moving the puck and supporting each other. We work hard off the puck as well.”
The Rangers went 4-for-10 on the power play in the four games against the Devils, which included one contest without any man-advantage opportunities. But in consistently maintaining possession of the puck, spreading out in the offensive zone to create shooting lanes and converting risky passes, the Rangers got into a dangerous rhythm on the power play.
With 32 power-play goals this season, the Rangers currently sit ninth in the NHL. They have gone 9-for-23 in the last nine contests (39.1 percent) and 16-for-35 in the last 15 (35.6 percent).
The Rangers agreed to terms with forward Will Cuylle on an entry-level contract on Monday, the team announced.
Cuylle, the 60th pick in the 2020 draft, has been playing with the Rangers’ AHL affiliate in Hartford this season. Through 13 games, he’s scored two goals and dished three assists with 26 penalty minutes.
The Rangers have now signed four players to entry-level deals in 2021, Cuylle, Zac Jones, Hunter Skinner and Braden Schneider.
The only players in NHL history to average at least 1.50 points per game and fewer than 0.10 penalty minutes per game in a single season are Herb Cain (Bruins) and Jean Ratelle (Rangers).
Artemi Panarin is currently averaging 1.53 points per game and 0.06 penalty minutes per game this season.
With two assists in Sunday’s win, Panarin extended his point streak to four games with four goals and six assists over that span. His 12 points (four goals, eight assists) in eight games against the Devils this season are the most for a Ranger against the Devils in a single season in franchise history.
The 29-year-old winger ranks second in the NHL in assists per game (1.06) and points per game (1.53), trailing only the Oilers’ Connor McDavid in each category.
Following Saturday’s and Sunday’s games, the Rangers completed the fifth of their seven back-to-back sets this season. The team has posted a 3-2-0 record in the second game of a back-to-back. Additionally, they have earned at least one point in the second game in 11 of their 17 two-game sets since the start of last season, posting a 10-6-1 record.
The Rangers will play the Flyers back-to-back on April 22 and 23 before facing the Capitals and Bruins on May 5 and 6.