Rangers Notebook: Improving power plays, Grossman out

Derek Stepan.
SCOTT LEVY/NHLI/GETTY IMAGES

There has been one irritant bothering the Rangers throughout one of the most remarkably successful seasons in franchise history — the power play. Specifically, its lack of production.
 
The Rangers’ power play ranks 27th in the NHL with a success rate of 15.1 percent. Only Montreal (14.6), Phoenix (14.2) and Dallas (14.1) are worse.  
 
However, the Rangers’ man advantage units are 9-for-41 in the last 12 games. Not coincidentally, the Blueshirts are 8-4 in that stretch.
 
One of the keys to the improved production has been head coach John Tortorella’s decision to put Derek Stepan on the point. The subtle change allows Stepan, a natural centerman, to move the puck between Michael Del Zotto on the other point and Brad Richards.
 
Stepan has scored a goal and tallied three assists since the on-ice personnel restructuring. Four of Stepan’s 17 goals have come on the power play.
 
“I think any offensive player if things are going well on the power play, [it] helps your offensive game, or vice versa,” Tortorella said during the Rangers’ optional skate at the Wells Fargo Center Tuesday morning.  
 
“The biggest thing that has helped Step on our power play is having him have the puck. He sees the ice well. He does bring a certain amount of patience to it. We have the puck under more control,” Tortorella said. “If he’s doing that on the power play it will certainly help his game.”
 
Grossed out
 
Philadelphia center Danny Briere and defense Nicklas Grossman missed Tuesday’s game due to injuries sustained in Sunday’s 6-4 fight-marred win over Pittsburgh. Grossman suffered what the Flyers termed “a lower body injury” after a first period hit by Penguins center Joe Vitale and did not return to the game. Vitale’s late-game hit on Briere sparked the end-of-game melee and caused the Philadelphia center to incur an “upper back contusion,” according to the team.
 
Grossman is expected to rejoin the team in time for the playoffs, but there is no time table for Briere’s return.
 
The Rangers saw the end-of-game fireworks Sunday. They recognize that the Flyers, Penguins and Capitals, their final three opponents, will be emotional and play desperate hockey. Yet they are unconcerned that their opponents desperation will morph into on-ice violence.
 
“It [didn’t] involve us,” Brandon Prust said. “Our rivalry with Philly has been pretty good this far. It’s always a physical battle. We expect the same, [but] that doesn’t mean there’s going to be a bench brawl. It’s a playoff atmosphere.”
 
Winning streak
 
The Rangers are acutely aware that they had beaten the Flyers in the first five regular season meetings.
 
It is an achievement, to be sure. It is just not one they believe will mean anything should the two rivals meet in the playoffs.
 
“You want to leave your mark on a team. You want them to think in the back of their mind, ‘Jeez, I don’t really want to see these guys,’ and I’m sure they’re thinking the same thing,” Mike Rupp said. “We’re not for one second going to think that these guys can’t beat us. That’s a very good hockey team over there. If they win a couple of those [earlier] games against us, they’re right with us. I don’t think for a second we’ve got this team’s number. We just found ways to come through in those games. I don’t know what their mindset it, but we’re not thinking we’re invincible against them by any stretch.”

Follow Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman as the Rangers and Devils gear up for the playoffs.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

New Apple iPhone to have 'mobile wallet' function:…

(Reuters) - Apple Inc plans to enable its next iPhone to become a mobile wallet by allowing owners to securely make mobile payments in a…

Money

Second Shift: Balancing school, work and a side…

See how a Brooklynite balances getting her PhD while working two other jobs.

Local

NYPD: Early morning shootings reported along West Indian…

Several shootings were reported in the early morning hours before the West Indian Day Parade, according to the NYPD. A 55-year-old man was shot and…

Money

Investing: Buying low, selling high

Learn how rebalancing can help you be successful in investing.

Gossip

Who is Ashlee Simpson’s new husband anyway?

Find out five things about Ashlee Simpson's new husband, Evan Ross.

Entertainment

Jennifer Lawrence and more: The big names on…

The names of more than 100 famous actresses, musicians and athletes were included in a list of purported hacking victims, nude photos of whom were…

Movies

Interview: Juliette Lewis on playing low-key and quiet…

"Kelly & Cal" star Juliette Lewis talks about being drawn to unlikeable characters, how she herself is quiet and being young and working with Scorsese.

Television

Whit Stillman: TV show 'The Cosmopolitans' is a…

Filmmaker Whit Stillman ("The Last Days of Disco," "Damsels in Distress") talks about his Amazon pilot show "The Cosmopolitans" and doing TV.

NFL

Odell Beckham still 'weeks away,' Tom Coughlin angry…

Giants head coach Tom Coughlin has fought a losing battle against the media all preseason over the status of wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.

NFL

3 things we learned in the Giants preseason…

The final score didn’t matter — a 16-13 win by the Giants — but it would’ve been nice to finally see Big Blue’s new-look offense get on track.

NFL

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots, 49ers start…

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots start at top

U.S. Soccer

5 facts about new England captain Wayne Rooney

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney was named as the new England captain by coach Roy Hodgson on Thursday.

Travel

10 free apps to make traveling easier

Finding the nearest bathroom, calculating currency exchanges and locating your departure gate must have been difficult for travelers of previous generations. But we wouldn't know,…

Travel

How to get a seat upgrade to business…

It used to be much easier to upgrade your coach seat to business or even first class, but rigid rules and tighter schedules have made…

Career

The number of telecommuters is expected to nearly…

Until a few years ago, telecommuting was not considered a realistic option at most companies. But with technological advances like high-speed Internet and smartphones, more…

Wellbeing

Your new food ally to ward off type…

For people who may be headed for type 2 diabetes, regularly eating pistachios might help turn the tide, according to a small nutrition trial from…