Rangers Notebook: Penalty kill unit playing among league best

Isles coach Jack Capuano is impressed with his veteran leadership.
Islanders coach Jack Capuano has his team playing much better recently.
Credit: Getty Images

One of the topics dominating the conversation about the 2013-14 Rangers has been their dynamic man-advantage units, a polar opposite from the not-too-distant past.

The success of the Rangers’ power play — seventh in the NHL as of Tuesday morning — has been such an all-encompassing theme it has overshadowed a penalty kill that has been among the league’s best.

Entering last night’s revival of hostilities with the Islanders, the Rangers penalty kill was ninth overall. The Rangers have killed 126-of-150 power plays against this season.

“I think you want to be aggressive as much as you can,” Dominic Moore said after the morning skate at the Garden. “Keep teams on the run but there’s a happy medium there, too. There’s experience that comes in when you know when it’s time to go and when not to. We have guys who are reading and reacting together. It took awhile for us to get on the same page. On the [penalty kill], it’s important you read and react together as a unit. If everybody’s on the same page it’s a lot easier to be aggressive at those times.”

That aggressiveness has led to three shorthanded goals this season. But that does not mean the Rangers have suddenly become a team that will take risks at every opportunity.

“There’s a time for both [aggressiveness and sitting back],” Moore said. “It comes down to experience, knowing when those times are.”

Isles on the rise

The Islanders are quietly beginning to make a move in both the Metropolitan Division and Eastern Conference playoff races.

Prior to last night’s game the Islanders had won 10 of 15 games, and closed to within five points of Columbus for the last wild-card berth.

“We’ve been playing well,” Islanders head coach Jack Capuano said after his team’s optional skate at the Garden. “We talk about puck management, doing the right things and playing high-percentage hockey.

“We have to make high-percentage plays. We’ve been more consistent [in terms of playing to their strengths] and that’s why we’re having success.”

Out of retirement

As part of the festivities for the upcoming Stadium Series games, the NHL held a pick-up game at the rink at Bank of America Winter Village in Bryant Park with Devils, Islanders and Rangers alumni.

Brian Leetch, Mike Richter and Dave Maloney represented the Rangers. Ken Daneyko, Bruce Driver and Jim Dowd played for the Devils, while Pat Flatley, Eric Cairns and Glenn Healey dressed for the Islanders.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, NHL Network host E.J. Hradek and WFAN morning host Boomer Esiason were also in attendance, as well as the New Jersey Avalanche, a Tier 1 Squirt Minor team.

Follow Rangers beat writer Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman.



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