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Wild, Rangers focused on solving power-play woes

by Dan Rosen

WILD (4-2-0) at RANGERS (4-4-0)


NEW YORK -- The power play has been the biggest problem area for the New York Rangers and Minnesota Wild so far this season. They'll try to solve it against one another Monday at Madison Square Garden.

"We'll figure it out," Wild left wing Zach Parise said. "We know it needs to be better, but I think the amount of shots and the amount of chances that we've gotten, it's there."

The goals haven't been. The Wild are 0-for-20 with one shorthanded goal against through six games. The Buffalo Sabres are the only other team in the League that hasn't scored a power play goal (0-for-30).

However, the Wild seem optimistic about their power play despite being shut out. They like the chances they're getting and the momentum they're generating. They also like the fact they haven't let their frustration over not scoring carry over into their 5-on-5 play.

They have been one of the best 5-on-5 teams this season with a League-low four even-strength goals allowed. Their penalty kill is 18-for-19. However, they were 0-for-8 on the power play during a two-game road trip to Southern California and lost 2-1 to the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks.

"I'll be honest, I'm not worried about [the power play] as long as we continue to handle it the right way," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "What I think we have done a good job of so far is being able to push it behind and make sure we're ready for that next shift. We haven't had a lot of carryover. There has been some frustration but our guys have been able to get reset and refocused and it hasn't carried into our 5-on-5 play, which we have to make sure we stay on top of. We know we have the talent and we're doing a lot of good things, creating a lot of chances. There's certainly some things we can do a little bit better, but we're not that far off."

The Rangers feel differently, even though they have two more power-play goals than the Wild this season. They are 2-for-22 with those goals scored in a 4-3 overtime win against the New Jersey Devils on Oct. 21.

Rangers forward Rick Nash said the lack of chances and momentum they are getting on the power play is worrisome.

"I think it's a concern," Nash said. "It's an easy excuse when people say it's early in the season. It's gotta be better. Arnie [assistant coach Scott Arniel] has put a great game plan forward, has every single scenario thought out for us. It's up to us to get the job done."

They didn't Saturday against the Montreal Canadiens, when they went 0-for-2 with a shorthanded goal allowed on a 2-on-0 break. New York's woeful power plays against the Canadiens prompted coach Alain Vigneault to show some different looks on each unit Monday morning.

The first unit featured three right-handed shots (Chris Mueller, Lee Stempniak and Dan Girardi) and two lefties (Nash and Martin St. Louis). The second unit was all lefties (Derick Brassard, Mats Zuccarello, Ryan Malone, Ryan McDonagh and John Moore).

Notice the lefty who wasn't on either unit is Chris Kreider, who has one of New York's two power-play goals this season.

"The last game in Montreal, our power play didn't get set up, and specifically [Kreider] turned it over four times in those power plays," Vigneault said. "He's in the meetings [Monday morning], I just wanted to take a couple of different looks."

Not lost in the Rangers struggles on the power play is who is missing from the lineup.

Defenseman Dan Boyle was signed to be their power-play quarterback, but he's on injured reserve with a fractured hand, an injury he sustained in the season opener on Oct. 9.

Center Derek Stepan sustained a fractured leg during the preseason and will miss at least two more games. Stepan, who had 18 points on the power play last season, can't come off long-term injured reserve until after the Rangers play Saturday against the Winnipeg Jets.

"It's an excuse," Nash said of not having Boyle and Stepan. "There are 22 other guys on this team that can step up and play a role on the power play. We have to make do with what we have and get the job done."

Here are the projected lineups:


Zach Parise - Mikael Granlund - Jason Pominville

Thomas Vanek - Mikko Koivu - Charlie Coyle

Nino Niederreiter - Erik Haula - Justin Fontaine

Matt Cooke - Ryan Carter - Jason Zucker

Ryan Suter - Jonas Brodin

Marco Scandella - Jared Spurgeon

Nate Prosser - Matt Dumba

Darcy Kuemper

Niklas Backstrom

Injured: Keith Ballard (illness), Christian Folin (illness)

Scratched: Kyle Brodziak


Chris Kreider - Martin St. Louis - Rick Nash

Carl Hagelin - Derick Brassard - Mats Zuccarello

Ryan Malone - Dominic Moore - Lee Stempniak

Tanner Glass - Chris Mueller - Anthony Duclair

Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi

Marc Staal - Kevin Klein

John Moore - Matt Hunwick

Henrik Lundqvist

Cam Talbot

Injured: Derek Stepan (leg), Dan Boyle (hand)

Scratched: Kevin Hayes, Mike Kostka

Status report: Vigneault said he was still evaluating a few positions for his lineup, but added that as of Monday morning Malone would be in after sitting out as a healthy scratch Saturday at Montreal. St. Louis would move back to the middle if Hayes is out, which seems likely considering he skated long after the regulars came off the ice Monday morning. … Yeo said Ballard and Folin, who are both out with illnesses, did not make the trip because of the limited practice time. The Wild arrived in New York on Sunday and also play Tuesday against the Boston Bruins. Yeo said he expected Ballard and Folin would skate and work out Monday.

Who's hot: Hagelin has two goals in the past three games after going the first five games without a point. … Zucker scored two goals in a 7-2 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday. He has four goals this season. Scandella, Parise, Vanek and Pominville each had two points against Tampa Bay.


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