How the Rangers’ penalty kill can improve in 2023

New York Rangers defenseman Braden Schneider (4) celebrates his goal against the New Jersey Devils during the third period in game six of the first round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden

Throughout the 2022-2023 regular season, the New York Rangers struggled quite a bit defensively. In order to finish as high up in the standings as they did, the Blueshirts relied on their special teams to do a lot of the heavy lifting.

The power play was successful, finishing close to the top of the NHL. However, the penalty kill was somewhat average throughout the year. Because of their iffy 5v5 play, if the Rangers want to improve their odds at hoisting the Stanley Cup, both special teams units must be firing on all cylinders.

The Rangers PK was pretty mediocre last season

By the end of the 2022-2023 regular season, the Rangers penalty kill percentage finished at 81.17%. This stat left them sitting decently at 13th overall league-wide. Throughout the 2023 playoffs, the Rangers finished third overall on the penalty kill at 83.33%- but they only played seven games.

In order to win the Stanley Cup, there is no room for mediocrity anywhere on a team’s roster. Sitting around the middle of league standings, while also allowing five shorthanded goals throughout the year, is not enough to make a deep postseason run when your team struggles to score while the ice is evenly matched.

It’s very clear that special teams performance directly impacts the team’s success, as proven by last season.

New offseason signings must contribute on the PK

One of the most underrated offseason signings the Rangers made this year comes in the form of Nick Bonino. While he won’t be a major point producer down on the fourth line, Bonino’s main contributions will likely be on the defensive end. With Tyler Motte no longer remaining a Ranger, it seems as if this new signing will fill that role.

Because the Rangers’ first PK unit is solid, Bonino will likely fill a spot on the second. He’s known for having keen defensive abilities and should be a nice boost to help elevate a mediocre group toward greatness. Playing alongside Barclay Goodrow, who also excels on the penalty kill, should help solidify the shaky group.

“With Bonino’s expertise in the faceoff circle, the Rangers’ penalty-killing unit is poised to improve significantly. Winning defensive zone faceoffs helps gain control and clears the puck from dangerous areas, reducing the opposing team’s scoring chances.”

via Sportskeeda

Rangers’ offensive defensemen must change their mindset

When looking at both penalty kill units that the Rangers utilize, two of the four defensemen are considered to be more offensive-minded. Ryan Lindgren and Jacob Trouba are stellar defensively, but both Adam Fox and K’Andre Miller tend to look toward the offensive zone.

Fox excels defensively despite his offensive mindset, but it’s essential for him to remain solely defensive when trying to kill off a penalty. Although Miller is not the greatest defensively, he should be able to utilize his size and lengthy stick to knock some pucks away.

Of course, it’s always great to watch the Rangers score a shorthanded goal, but sometimes last season it seemed like the penalty kill units forgot what their main objective on their shift was.

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