Rangers power play struggles, again

April, 21, 2011
4/21/11
12:32
AM ET
NEW YORK -- Seven different times, a total of thirteen minutes and two seconds of ice time on Wednesday night, the Rangers had a chance to use the power play to their advantage. The red-and-white power play message would flash across the JumboTron and the fans would get loud, hoping the Rangers could net a goal on their one-man advantage.

All seven times, the Rangers found themselves without a goal, missing on a golden opportunity in a game where ultimately they fell one goal short. Simply put, the Rangers' power play is MIA.

The Rangers went 0-for-7 on the power play on Wednesday night, with just four shots, and the missed chances loomed large as the Rangers fell 4-3 in double overtime in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals. In the Rangers' past 13 games, they are a wretched 2-for-45 on the power play (4.4 percent).

"It's frustrating," defenseman Marc Staal said. "You're put out there with a man advantage and you gotta get chances, you have to create momentum for yourself and we haven't been able to get the goal so hopefully we can turn it around."

The power play's ineptitude has become a recurring nightmare for the Rangers over the past month as they have time after time failed to score on the power play. The power plays usually start and end the same way.

First, there's excitement for the opportunity. After about a minute, which usually involves the opposing team clearing the puck, fans start to get restless. The Rangers will find themselves on the attack once again, the fans will yell "Shoot it!" and the Rangers often end up with a long-distance shot or fail to even get one shot on goal, at times being serenaded with boos from the frustrated paying customers.

While the Rangers weren't great at the power play during the regular season, scoring on just 16.9 percent of their chances, they're just 1-for-18 in the playoffs. On Wednesday, the Rangers had five opportunities during regulation and two chances in the two overtime periods.

After being handed a power play by the Capitals in the second overtime because of too many men on the ice, the Rangers had just one shot on goal: a 27-foot wrist shot from defenseman Dan Girardi that Washington goalie Michal Neuvirth stopped.

"We didn't get second opportunities. We had a tough time setting the puck up and when we did set up and get a chance we were one and done," forward Brandon Dubinsky said. "We got to make sure we play harder when we get on the power play there and find a way to get those second and third opportunities and if you don’t score a goal, at least build some momentum off it rather than it go the other way."

In a somber locker room after the game, forward Brian Boyle said the team just has to continue to work at the power play, putting an emphasis on winning more battles and keeping the puck in the opponents' end for more time.

Head coach John Tortorella called the power play a struggle, mentioning how the team has tried different combinations, but nothing seems to be working. With the power play struggling, he put an emphasis on the penalty kill to step up and make sure the special teams element of the game ends up a wash.

On Wednesday night, the penalty kill did its job, stopping the Capitals on all four occasions when they had a one-man advantage. On this night, though, it wasn't enough -- not with the repeated failures of the power play.

"It was a big part of the game," Boyle said. "If we can bury them, it's a different game."

Matt Ehalt

ESPN New York contributor

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