The Rangers’ second power-play unit has just one goal through 21 games this season, scored by defenseman Jacob Trouba in the 4-1 win over the Flyers on Wednesday night. But Trouba said he and the rest of the unit had not been stressing about not having a goal through the first 20 games.
That unit has barely seen any ice time, so why would they?
“I think our first unit is really good, they take up a good chunk of the time,” Trouba said. “When we get out there and get an opportunity, just try to get shots to the net, open up the lanes and one went in. Definitely feels good and it’s good for our unit, for sure.”
The first unit of Chris Kreider (71:11), Artemi Panarin (70:49), Mika Zibanejad (70:17), Adam Fox (49:34) and Ryan Strome (33:09) has received a bulk of the Rangers’ power-play time. There’s a significant drop-off to the second unit of Alexis Lafreniere (33:09), Trouba (23:56), Filip Chytil (20:16), Nils Lundkvist (17:27) and Kaapo Kakko (15:37).
Kreider, Panarin, Zibanejad and Fox have all played more than 72 percent of the Rangers’ power plays this season. Kreider has scored nine of the Rangers’ 14 man-advantage tallies this season, while Panarin and Zibanejad have recorded one each.
Chytil noted the second unit usually gets around 20-30 seconds before the power play expires to make something happen, which is no easy feat.
“We don’t have the breakouts like the first power-play unit because we have only 20 seconds,” he said. “If we wait for the breakout, we lose another 10-15 seconds. So that’s not how it works, we just have to turn it and be as quick as you can in the offensive zone. We’re good offensive players, so it’s just up to us what we do there. We have to put the puck to the net.”
During the victory Wednesday, the first unit wasn’t able to generate a single shot on net during its first power-play opportunity, and only recorded one in its second attempt, but the second group came on and was able to keep the puck in the offensive zone before it found its way to Trouba for the goal.
Head coach Gerard Gallant joked that if the first unit continued playing the way it did Wednesday, the second unit might see more time. But with the talent on the top group, Gallant said it’s difficult not to give it as much ice time as possible.
“You look at our first unit and it’s a talent unit and it’s creating scoring chances a lot more than it did earlier in the year,” he said. “So this is the way it works, most teams you look around the league — the Toronto power-play unit and all those teams with real good power-play units —their first line gets a minute, a minute and 30 usually. And the other guys clean up the mess sometimes.
“I was happy to see them score and get some confidence in it. In certain situations in certain games, will they get more time? Probably will. It’s hard to not throw your first unit over the board in those tight hockey games when you’re trying to win every night.”
Barclay Goodrow had to get stitches after taking a puck to the face Wednesday. Along with Kevin Rooney, Goodrow had a maintenance day Thursday and did not participate in practice. … With Greg McKegg still in COVID-19 protocol, the Rangers recalled forward Morgan Barron from Hartford on Thursday night. is still in COVID-19 protocol.
Gallant said the plan is for goalies Igor Shesterkin and Alexandar Georgiev to each get a start in the back-to-back games against the Sharks and Blackhawks on Friday and Saturday.
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