BOSTON -- The New York Rangers power play has regressed from being ineffective to creating momentum for the other team. If it continues this way, the light at the end of the tunnel is bound to go dark after the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
"We said early on that special teams wins you games, wins you series," Rangers forward Rick Nash said, "and we're not getting it done right now."
They weren't even close in Game 1 against the Boston Bruins on Thursday night, when they went 0-for-3 in a 3-2 overtime loss to fall to 2-for-31 on the power play in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The Rangers struggled to even gain the zone against the Bruins' aggressive penalty kill. Their breakouts weren't clean and they turned over the puck.
When they were able to get inside the blue line, they didn't have much time to set up before a Boston player was applying pressure to take away time and space and force the puck back out.
The Rangers managed three shots on goal and five attempts at the net over 5:35 of power-play time. The only thing worse than that is they won one of five faceoffs over their three power plays.
"I think it's just the execution is not getting done," Nash said. "We've got the plan in place and everyone is on the same page, it's just a matter of getting the job done and we haven't been this whole playoffs."
The Rangers managed to get through the conference quarterfinals in seven games against the Washington Capitals in spite of a 2-for-28 power play because their discipline in Games 6 and 7 allowed for less of an emphasis to be put on special teams. Washington had no power plays in Game 6 and two in Game 7, but their second one came after New York had built a 5-0 lead.
However, the Bruins power play, which was 3-for-20 against the Toronto Maple Leafs, came to life in Game 1 on Thursday. Torey Krug scored the game-tying goal 2:55 into the third period, and Boston used an early power play in overtime to generate momentum it never gave back before Brad Marchand scored the winner at 15:40.
If the Rangers had one answer on their three power plays the game wouldn't have even gone to overtime, but the Bruins penalty killers wouldn't let it happen. Now the Rangers have to make some adjustments in order to find any kind of success or momentum on the power play in Game 2.
"You don't have to stick to it," Rangers coach John Tortorella said when asked if it's too late in the season now to make adjustments to a power play. "I'm not going to get too deep into it, but we're trying to get it to be better."
The problem is the Bruins, at least for now, have no reason to adjust the way they kill penalties. If anything, they may get more aggressive because they have seen firsthand the difficulties the Rangers are having.
They actually did that in Game 1. Bruins coach Claude Julien said his penalty-killers applied more pressure than usual up the ice to disrupt the Rangers' breakouts.
"And we turned some pucks over and had some chances to go on the rush as well," Julien said.
New York at least hasn't given up a shorthanded goal in these playoffs, but its power play is still giving the opponent momentum.
The longer it continues, the less of a chance the Rangers have to win another series.
"It's just a matter of executing the plays we have in place," Nash said. "The coaching staff does the scouting and they put the right game plan and the system in play, it's just a matter of the players executing it."