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Rangers looking to improve struggling power play

Saturday, 05.03.2014 / 5:17 PM

By Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor / Penguins-Rangers series blog

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Rangers looking to improve struggling power play

PITTSBURGH -- New York Rangers coach Alain Vigneault knows how important it is for his team to be successful on the power play. But the current struggles with the man advantage aren't causing him too much concern.

The Rangers beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2 in overtime in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference Second Round series despite going 0-for-4 on the power play. That ran their streak of consecutive unsuccessful power plays to 25, dating to Game 2 of their first-round Stanley Cup Playoff series against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Game 2 against Pittsburgh is Sunday at Consol Energy Center (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS).

Vigneault kept his players off the ice Saturday and had them watch video to make whatever corrections were needed. It's the same approach he would have used had the skid happened during the regular season.

"Our power play started [the playoffs] well and it hasn't been clicking," Vigneault said. "It's a topic. It's an important element of winning games. ... [In Game 1] it didn't work. We've got another game coming. We turn the page and we focus on [Game 2] and we try to make it work."

Vigneault said he is considering changes in personnel, but said it's not as easy as swapping one player for another.

"Sometimes you've got to trust that your players will find a way to get it done and some other times it's the options that you have," he said. "The other thing that comes into consideration also at this time of year is we don't practice a lot so we don't work on a lot of things."

Forward Brad Richards, who plays the point on the top power-play unit, said he believes he and his teammates can work on getting back to using their individual skills a bit more.

"In my opinion we're trying to look for things and map it out too much," he said. "That happens sometimes in a playoff series where you're watching them so much, seeing so much video, you're trying to exploit different things. But I think really you've got to just play hockey. That's why we're out there; be creative. The last two [power plays] we were focused on trying to do certain things, and that's tough in hockey because not everything gets mapped out perfectly and you have to be able to ad lib. We got out of that."

Everyone who earns time on the power play wants to be the player who ends the skid, but the Rangers know it can be dangerous when someone tries to do too much.

"I think we have to work as a unit of five," said Derek Stepan, who centers the first group. "When we were clicking during the season we had five-man units that executed, and when it was time to make your play you had to make your play. That doesn't change in the playoffs."

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Quote of the Day

This is a big year for us in a lot of ways. You can see Garth and management really trying to find that solution to get us into the playoffs and consistently have that. The pressure is great. You have to enjoy it. It just means there's a great opportunity ahead of you.

— Islanders captain John Tavares