New York Rangers: Why Chris Kreider Is So Dominant On The Power Play

New York Rangers, Chris Kreider

New York Rangers forward Chris Kreider has been the team’s number one source of goals this season. His eight scores lead the team, as do his five power play goals. He posted his third career hat trick in Wednesday night’s loss to Philadelphia and has scored in two straight. In other words, the longest-tenured Ranger has been magnificent around the net – especially on the power play. It’s no coincidence he’s tied with eight other players for the third-most power play goals in the NHL though. His ability to control the ice in-front of the net has turned him into a goal-scoring machine.

What Makes Chris Kreider so Good on the Power Play:

 His Ability to Find Open Space Around the Net

Very few do a better job of finding open space around the net than Kreider. The former first-rounder has virtually made a name for himself strictly by plucking off goals in the crease. Each time Kreider steps on the ice he makes a point of gaining position by the net and waiting for an opportunity to strike. Sometimes that opportunity is a rebound off a wrist-shot from 20 feet out, while other times it’s a tip-in off a slap-shot from the blue line. He’s always waiting to cash-in, game after game.

Kreider positions himself to the right of Flyers goaltender Brian Elliott perfectly. There’s not a single defenseman within reach of him when the puck ricochets off Elliott, giving him a wide-open net to score on.

The Flyers, like every other NHL team that has played the Rangers in the Kreider-era, failed to correct their mistake the next period as well.

This time Kreider waits for Zibanejad to set him up with a picture-perfect pass and cashes in once again. Just like his first goal of the game, there’s no defender to impact his shot. You’d think teams would do a better job of locating him by now, right? Considering he has been tormenting penalty-killing teams for his entire career, after all.

His Ability to Stay Calm Under Pressure

Not all goals will be as easy as the ones from Wednesday’s game against Philadelphia unfortunately, but that isn’t a problem for Kreider. For years he has been able to send the biscuit into the oven despite players draped all over him. He never feels pressure and always remains calm.

The clip above is from a game against Vancouver in 2013. Notice anything about No. 20 in blue? He’s positioned in-front of the net for the entirety of the possession, patiently waiting for a shot-on-goal that he can redirect into the twine. And when former-captain Ryan McDonagh sends a wrist-shot into the pile-up of skaters outside the net, Kreider capitalizes. Despite Vancouver’s Chris Tanev effort to interrupt Kreider’s concentration, the power play goal is scored.

Nearly eight years later and nothing has changed.

He Makes the Most of His Chances

No member of the Blueshirts makes more of their minutes than Kreider. His average ice-time of 17:27 is the fifth-most among forwards on the team, and yet, as mentioned earlier, he leads the team in goals with eight. What makes his goal-tally even more impressive though is how few shots he has taken. He has converted on eight of the 41 shots he has taken this year, an absurd success-rate of 23.5% – the highest on the team.

For perspective, only eight other players in the NHL with at least eight goals scored have converted on at least 23.5% of shots taken. Furthermore, five of those eight players spend more time on the ice than Kreider each game, which provides them with more opportunities.

This is nothing new for Kreider, however. Although he has never averaged more than 17:30 of ice time in a season, the Massachusetts-native has scored 20+ goals in five of his eight seasons. An impressive 31.5% of his career goals have occurred on the power play. All while being one of the speediest skaters on Broadway for the last decade.

It’s not by chance that Kreider is having a strong 2021 season on the power play. The guy knows how to get the puck into the net and has shown no signs of slowing down in year number nine. Nor will he slow down until someone invents a tactic to keep him out of the crease.

New York Islanders: Revisiting the Jean-Gabriel Pageau trade

Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Islanders

Yesterday was the one year anniversary of the New York Islanders trading for Jean-Gabriel Pageau. This trade may go down as one of the biggest highway robberies ever committed by any NHL team ever. Pageau has not only been a top performer on the Islanders, but he’s also one of the most annoying players to play against in the league. Pageau does it all, he’s on the penalty kill, he can dangle through 3 defenders, he can snipe in the toy department. It’s almost like having Mat Barzal, Casey Cizikas, and Brock Nelson combine into one complete center. No, I’m not saying that Pageau is the Islanders’ best or most complete center, but he has been undeniably great. What is Pageau’s impact? And what did the Islanders give away for him?

Pageau’s Impact

The New York Islanders had a huge problem last year and going into this year. They couldn’t score goals, and they had no money to get someone to do it. Enter Jean-Gabriel Pageau, who scores some of the best goals I’ve ever seen. It seems that he can score from almost anywhere. Currently, Pageau is tied for 2nd in points with 11 and tied 2nd in goals with 7. The fact that Pageau continues to play at the top of his game with new linemates every other game is something no other player an do. Not only can he score, but he’s insanely reliable on the faceoff. Pageau currently ranks 13th in the league in faceoff percentage with a 57.4% win rate. That’s why you see him double shift at the end of games and when the fourth line is out there late in the game.

What did the Islanders Trade Away?

The Islanders traded away their first and second-round pick in the 2020 NHL draft. They also had a conditional third going to the Senators if the Isles won the Stanley Cup. These picks ended up being late-round picks. I’m not going to say that good teams should trade away their first-rounders every year. But, if you are truly committed to the win now, you should definitely look into trading one or two of them. To put it simple, what did the first-rounder do in the NHL that the player you traded for hasn’t? The answer, nothing cause they haven’t played yet.

New York Islanders: The Josh Ho-Sang experiment is over

The New York Islanders drafted Josh Ho-Sang with the 28th overall pick in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. It seemed like a sure-fire hit, as Ho-Sang ripped it up in the OHL and the GTHL U16. Sadly, Josh Ho-Sang never reached his first-round potential. It seemed like in 2016 that he was about to hit his stride and make a name for himself in the NHL. He was one of the most excitable players on the Islanders, behind Tavares, of course. But, his exciting play does not equal good performances, and it certainly doesn’t make up for office actions.

Ho-Sang’s attitude has prevented him from being a star, and it was one of the main reasons he got picked so late in the draft. Recently, Ho-Sang was dropped from his SHL team due to a lack of talent and preparation. What’s next for the young forward?

Waivers

Josh Ho-Sang cannot be on the Islanders for another minute, even a minute seems like I’m pushing it. The Islanders preach no turnovers, with hard checking and tight defense. Ho-Sang literally does none of these. He’s almost always turning the puck over in the offensive zone because he tries to do too much. If Ho-Sang just used his teammates and skated off the puck better, and actually played sound defense, he would be a good top 9 forward in the NHL.

Better Coaching

Barry Trotz and his current staff is the best coaching staff in the entire NHL. But, Ho-Sang needs a different type of coaching/system. He needs to go to a team like the Coyotes or the Jets where he can just let his natural talent flow. He’s a good player, everyone knows he is, but he needs to act like he wants to play. Come to training camp on time, never oversleep, be a good teammate, and do not criticize the organization he’s with. Every Hockey fan is rooting for Ho-Sang to become who he should be, but he needs to help himself.

New York Islanders: 3 stars from victory over the Penguins

New York Islanders

The New York Islanders have finally found themselves back in the win column after dropping 5 straight games. The Islanders needed to gain confidence and win in regulation, they accomplished both tasks. Overall I think it was a very mediocre performance from the Isles, but a win is a win. Nick Leddy and Scott Mayfield need to be taken off of the second d-pairing line. I don’t know if it’s because of endurance or maybe lack of chemistry, but they always look lost out there. It also makes no sense that Noah Dobson is getting bottom-pairing minutes. Then again, this team does make a lot of questionable decisions, such as giving Leo Komarov his 50th chance to prove his worth. Again, a win is a win, and there were some great performances from last night’s win. Who will be featured in the top 3?

Jordan Eberle

Jordan Eberle has found his stride very early into the season, something he literally never has done before. Eberle is playing 200 feet, and when you create turnovers in the neutral zone, good things happen. Eberle has an arsenal of toe-drags and dekes to beat out almost any defender. His backhand shot is easily one of the most dangerous shots on the team. But, what I’m most impressed by is his commitment to checking. Eberle has been very tight with his checking, and it looks like he’s everywhere at once. It’s always good to see an older guy with a lot of pep in his step.

Michael Dal Colle

The NHL might have to drug test Dal Colle because he has been playing the best hockey I’ve seen him play since his OHL days. I’ve been so harsh on Dal Colle for his entire career, but it looks like he finally found his stride. The one thing I love about Dal Colle is the energy he plays with. Dal Colle does not waste a single second in any shift. He is always forechecking or backchecking, and now his puck skills have developed, and he’s able to set up big offensive zone chances. Look for Dal Colle to cement his place on the third line when Anthony Beauvillier returns.

Cal Clutterbuck

I think the fourth line, aka the energy line, should be disbanded after this season. I don’t see the same speed or aggressiveness I saw in these players throughout their entire careers, especially with younger guys like Simon Holmstrom, Oliver Wahlstrom, and Kieffer Bellows ready to make the NHL jump. That’s exactly what I said to myself seconds before Clutterbuck scored the game-tying goal. It almost looked as if they blew the rush and walked away with no shot. And somehow, Clutterbuck found the back of the net and made it even. I still stand by what I said, but it wouldn’t hurt to keep Clutterbuck around.

Breaking down the real problem with the New York Islanders

New York Islanders, Barry Trotz

The New York Islanders have dropped 5 straight games and have only collected just 2 points in those games. In a regular season, there’s a chance you can come back from this. But, in an abbreviated season, there’s just no room for this much error. Who’s to blame for this skid? The production from the players? The lineups made by Barry Trotz? Or, is it the fact that the Islanders just lack talent overall? The answer is basically all three of these things combined.

Lack of Production

There are only a few players on this team who look like they actually want to win. Mat Barzal, Anders Lee, Jordan Eberle, Noah Dobson, Ryan Pulock, and Adam Pelech. Every other lineup regular forgot that the season started 3 weeks ago. This does not include players like Kieffer Bellows, Austin Czarnik, and Oliver Wahlstrom, who all have played great in their limited chances. I don’t know what’s going to get through the heads of other players. If you cannot score, play good defense and check tightly. But no one else does that, so it’s basically a 19v6 every single night. Whenever Nick Leddy, Leo Komarov, and Ross Johnston take the ice, I cringe a lot. The Islanders need to find players who actually want to win.

Bad Coaching Decisions

I’m not taking away from how good of a coach Barry Trotz is, but his decisions have been questionable recently. For example, Leo Komarov takes a major penalty late in the third period, and the second he’s able to come back, he gets thrown out there with a minute left in a tied game. Komarov blows his assignment, as everyone knew he would, and costs the Isles 2 points. Then the next game, Komarov gets bumped up to top-six minutes. If I’m the coach, I know exactly how I’m rolling out these forwards. Lee-Barzal-Eberle, Bellows-Nelson-Cznarik/Dal Colle, Wahlstrom-Pageau-Bailey, fourth line. Obviously, when Beauvillier comes back, he’ll take out Cznarik or whoever is skidding.

Lack of Talent

Nick Leddy is an AHL talent at this point in his career. Leo Komarov is going to be in an old folk’s home soon. Ross Johnston is just a UFC fighter on skates. Scott Mayfield is as average as it possibly gets. I do like his penalty kill play, though. Everyone else is just playing bad, so I won’t get on their case, but still, this team lacks talent. And it’s not like they can get out of this rut anytime soon because they don’t have cap space. This year you have to resign the white whale, the best defender on the team, and a top 6 forward, plus more. The Islanders must make a blockbuster trade now.

New York Islanders: 3 takeaways from loss to Capitals

New York Islanders, Mat Barzal

The New York Islanders lost to the Washington Capitals in regulation after poor backchecking cost them a chance at victory. Leo Komarov made his season debut last night, and boy, did the Capitals feel his impact.

He gifted them a 5-minute major that turned the momentum late in the 3rd period. And then, with only 26 seconds left, Komarov decides to not backcheck, and the Capitals score. First of all, Barry Trotz should not have someone like Leo Komarov out there with a minute left. Second of all, Leo Komarov plays mainly because of his penalty-killing ability, but he never gets to kill one because he’s always in the box. Hockey is a team game, and the Isles didn’t lose just because of Komarov. So, what did NHL fans learn from last night’s game?

The First Line is the Only Line

You cannot expect to win a hockey game when you only have 8 real players on the ice at all times. Other good teams, like the Bruins, have 19 real players available. The Islanders have both their first lines, Noah Dobson and whichever goalie is in.

It’s physically impossible for them to win consistently if half the team doesn’t perform. There needs to be a switch-up in lines. I would like to see JG Pageau get some help for once. Put Josh Bailey on the third line with Pageau and Wahlstrom. Also, have Michael Dal Colle replace Anthony Beauvillier on the second line until he comes back. MDC, Brock Nelson, and Kieffer Bellows on the second line. Keep everything else the same.

Noah Dobson Will be a top defenseman in the League

It’s always amazing to see a young star in the making. When I saw players like Odell Beckham Jr, Patrick Mahomes, and Mat Barzal become superstars, I always was smiling ear to ear when they played. I get the same feeling when I see Noah Dobson play.

Dobson has only played 40 official NHL games in his young career, but he plays like he’s played 300. Dobson is calm with the puck, he’s strong in the corners, and he shoots at will. Trotz has always said when you’re outside the dots, shoot for your teammates, and that’s what Dobson does. Noah Dobson will be a top 20 defender in the league in 2 years’ time.

Nick Leddy Must be Moved

The Nick Leddy trade was a great trade, the keyword is was. Nick Leddy is a shell of his former self, and he’s dragging Scott Mayfield down with him. Leddy puts no pressure on forwards and misses his man almost every time. The only thing he has left is his speed and his shot. The Islanders need a real defenseman to pair with Scott Mayfield. Maybe the Keith Yandle rumors heat up? Or maybe the Islanders take a shot at Vince Dunn, who was placed on the trade block recently.

New York Islanders: Analyzing last night’s Loss to the Devils

New York Islanders, Noah Dobson

The New York Islanders did it again, they made a backup goalie look like a franchise one. There were so many problems in last night’s performance. Problems such as not marking forwards, puck control, shots on net, rebound control, easy passing, and so much more. The Islanders have yet to play well when Ilya Sorokin is in between the pipes. Not a single goal for in Sorokin’s two starts this season. I only blame Sorokin for the second goal last night.

The rebound was way too juicy, should’ve been controlled or frozen. But, I also can put the blame on Casey Cizkas for overpursuing Nikita Gusev and Nick Leddy not marking his man. Hockey is a team sport, and a team can only win together. What were the strong points and weak points from last night’s loss?

Strong Points

Noah Dobson played very well last night apart from one small little pass on the power play. If Dobson and Pulock can get their chemistry down pat, the first line power play could become dangerous.

One thing I really like about Dobson’s game is the fact that he shoots so very often. Good things happen when the puck gets on the net, and Dobson understands that. Next, Adam Pelech had another sensational performance. Pelech could be a top 3 player in every game this season if he continues this type of play. Pelech is impressive and the glue that holds the team together. Finally, Ilya Sorokin played well if you forget the rebound on the second goal. Sorokin is pretty quick from pipe to pipe. I think with proper Islander play, Sorkin could shine.

Weak Points

Scott Wedgewood is not as good as the Islanders made him look. It’s just a fact, no hate on Wedgewood at all. The Islanders only challenged Wedgewood maybe twice last night. The only type of shots the Islanders took last night was chest shots and leg shots with no rebound guy.

Jordan Eberle and Casey Cizikas both missed empty-net goals. A professional Hockey team cannot score consistent goals if they aren’t grinding for them. The defense looked a bit lost last night. The forwards couldn’t control the puck well enough. Finally, the Islanders got beat at their own game. They got trapped in the neutral zone—a terrible performance in a shortened season where every point counts.

New York Islanders: It’s time for Oliver Wahlstrom to play

The New York Islanders have only played 3 games this season but have the same problem as last season. They can’t seem to figure out how to put the puck in the back of the net consistently. I know the Isles scored 4 goals against the Rangers in the first game. But, in the last 120 minutes of gameplay, they’ve only scored 1 goal.

The Islanders aren’t going to go make a trade for a top goal scorer. So, this player must come from inside the system. The answer is obviously Oliver Wahlstrom. No other winger has goal-scoring abilities as Wahlstrom has. Where would he fit in the lineup, though? Also, how would this impact the current gameplan?

Replace Ross Johnston

Ross Johnston’s best ability is his physicality, and this is a known fact. But he only has 11 hits in 3 games this season. The fourth line has been doing their thing and together have 27 hits in 3 games.

Even Kieffer Bellows has 10 hits in 3 games. It’s not like the Islanders need more checking. They need more goal scoring. And I also believe the reason why the third line gets a lack of minutes compared to the other lines is the fact that Ross Johnston is on it. I’m not calling him completely useless. But, as a wise man once said, “Johnston can do nothing just as much as he can do something.”

The Positives of the Change

When good players get the puck in space, there’s a scoring chance to be had. And when the puck gets on the net, good things happen. The third line takes the fewest amount of shots on net, with just 5 all year.

The puck needs to get on the net, and with a crafty player like Wahlstrom, it most certainly will. Teams don’t know how to gameplan for Wahlstrom. But, they know how to stop Johnston and make him slip up. All the Isles need is a confidence boost. If the Islanders can get Bellows and Wahlstrom to feel comfortable, the third line can be one of the deadliest in the league.

New York Islanders: Analyzing the win against the Boston Bruins

New York Islanders

The New York Islanders have put themselves back in the win column after squeezing past the Boston Bruins. This is the Islanders’ first home win against the Bruins in 8 years. The Islanders only managed to put the puck behind Tukka Rask once. But, they only needed one goal to win, as Semyon Varlamov played another excellent game. Varlamov has played so well this season that he now holds the Islanders franchise record for most minutes played without a goal allowed.

Statistically, Varlamov is the best goalie in the NHL right now, holding a 1.000 save percentage and a 0.00 GAA. There was some great play from a few players, and also some bad play from a few players. The Islanders will be analyzed as a team through each period, not by individual performances.

First Period

The Islanders just looked absolutely rusty in the first period. Only 2 shots on net all period, and not much offensive zone time at all. There were a bunch of turnovers committed, and the defensemen couldn’t hold the blue line to save their lives. The only player who shined in this first period was, of course, Semyon Varlamov. He stopped all 10 shots that came his way and just overall looked very calm in between the pipes. Also, the penalty kill looked very good again.

Second Period

This felt like the fastest period I’ve ever seen in Hockey. I’m not saying that the time went off the clock very quickly. But, the tempo was increased dramatically. There was no whistle for over 3 minutes at one point. Chances back n’ forth for each team, none of them converting, and the Islanders missed the net on almost all their chances. It was a setup period for what happened in the third.

Third Period

The Islanders finally pieced it all together in this period. It’s hard to beat a team where everyone is giving 100% on every single shift. Players like Anders Lee, Adam Pelech, and even Jordan Eberle gave it everything they had. Cal Clutterbuck hit everything in his vision. Matt Martin surpassed 3,000 career hits, putting him in the top 5 of hits among active players. Varlamov continued to be solid in between the pipes. The forwards jumped up in the neutral zone to force turnovers, and the defensemen pinched up behind them. This all led to the lone goal of the night, a J.G. Pageau tip-in. Sometimes all you need is a lucky bounce to win, I’m sure the Islanders are glad that it went their way.

Rangers prepare for first game against the Devils, Georgiev starts, DeAngelo sits again

The New York Rangers will host the New Jersey Devils at Madison Square Garden Tuesday night in another tough divisional battle.

New York Rangers:  1-1
New Jersey Devils: 1-0-1
Venue: Madison Square Garden
Television: MSG Networks
Radio: ESPN 98.7

The New York Rangers look to build on their 5-0 shutout over the New York Islanders on Saturday night when the Devils come to Broadway on Tuesday night.

Head coach David Quinn confirmed the same lineup would be used on Tuesday night following practice while also announcing that Alexandar Georgiev would start in net for the Blueshirts. Defenseman Anthony DeAngelo will sit for the second straight contest.

“Much more about sticking with what worked. The discipline piece is done and over with,” Quinn said of DeAngelo as was reported by beat writer Vince Mercogliano.

Lineup

Offense

Kreider-Zibanejad-Buchnevich
Panarin-Strome-Lafreniere
Lemieux-Howden-Gauthier
Di Giuseppe-Chytil-Kakko

Defense

Lindgren-Trouba
Johnson-Fox
Miller-Smith

Georgiev
Shesterkin

Special Teams

The Rangers were 1-for-8 vs. NY Islanders on the power play and killed off all four penalties they took on Saturday night.

The Blueshirts’ game against New Jersey tomorrow is one of only 10 scheduled games this season that is not part of a multiple-game set against one of their opponents (also Feb. 4 vs. WSH, Feb. 6 at NJD, Feb. 8 vs. NYI, Feb. 24 at PHI, Mar. 2 vs. BUF, Mar. 19 at WSH, Mar. 22 vs. BUF, Apr. 20 at NYI, Apr. 23 vs. PHI) via the new york Rangers PR Department.

Mika Zibanejead and Pavel Buchnevich are tied for the team lead in goals scored with two goals each. For the Devils, Myles Wood leads the teams in goals also with two.

This will be the Devil’s first road game of the year. Jack Hughes, the Devil’s first overall selection in last year’s draft, has three assists in the team’s first two games this year.

New Jersey is 0-8 on the power-play this season while allowing one short-handed goal.