Rangers: Laviolette’s defense-first system is bringing down the 5v5 offense

New York Rangers head coach Peter Laviolette coaches against the Arizona Coyotes during the third period at Madison Square Garden
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers have been on a roll as of late. A six-game win streak can be extended to seven straight tonight against Minnesota, and despite some recent injuries, everything seems to be going well for the Blueshirts.

Although the Rangers have been close to perfect through their last six matchups, there are still some critiques to be made. Even strength scoring has been a reoccurring issue in recent years, and it hasn’t seemed to disappear this season. It hasn’t been an immediate issue with the Rangers’ power play succeeding in almost every game, but if special teams slows down, the Blueshirts may be in trouble.

The Rangers have been mediocre at 5v5 this season

According to MoneyPuck, only 13 of the Rangers’ 30 total goals scored so far this season have come at 5v5. That number increases to 17 at any even strength situation, but it’s still not an ideal stat line.

The Rangers’ power play has been outstanding, as the Blueshirts rank third overall league-wide with a 32.4% PP. With twelve goals on the man advantage so far, the Rangers have only scored one more goal at 5v5. It’s strange to complain about a team’s power play being as elite as it is, but it’s also a strong indication that the even-strength offense needs to be better.

Laviolette’s coaching style is a major factor in a lack of even-strength production

Since becoming head coach of the Rangers, Peter Laviolette has implemented a strong, defensive-minded system. The number one objective when on the ice is to count the opposing team and keep them off the scoresheet. It has worked tremendously so far this season, but it has in turn brought a lack of even-strength goals.

Laviolette made sure to comment on the importance of finding offense when playing defensively:

“In the two games we lost the odd man rushes against was a really large number. You’re going to have to withstand one or two or three a game and I feel you can still win the game, but when it’s eight to 10, your chances to win the hockey game go down. That’s the only thing really that we’ve changed. We’re still in the offensive zone, we’re just not getting to where we need to get to and delivering what we need to deliver. I think it’s going to come. I feel like we’ll get there. But it’s a work in progress.”

Peter Laviolette via NHL.com

The Blueshirts must hope that the 5v5 scoring starts to pick up the pace soon. The power play, although elite, will not be enough to single handily carry the Rangers to a Stanley Cup Championship. With injuries riddling the lineup right now, everyone will need to start producing points at all times of the game.

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