Rangers found a surefire way to kill penalties in recent win
As the clock hit the nine-minute mark of the third period on Thursday night, Chris Kreider couldn’t help but think about penalties.
Specifically, the Rangers’ lack of penalties as they faced the Penguins.
The forward didn’t want to say anything to his team-mates at the time (“It’s usually when you take one,” he joked after the game), but Rangers eventually got through the 60 minutes of the 4-2 win without committing. a penalty, the first time they had done this in a game since Jan. 24, 2021, also against the Penguins.
The secret to accomplishing something Rangers have only done seven times in the past decade isn’t complicated, though.
“The best way to kill penalties is not to take them,” Kreider said.
The Rangers have recorded the sixth-fewest penalty minutes among NHL teams, with 522 this season, and their shorthandedness has run to a clip of 79.7%, 16th in the league.
But Thursday was still a performance the Rangers needed, especially against the Penguins, who have the NHL’s 14th power play (21.9%) and who had scored four power-play goals in seven previous chances against them this season. .
Part of the improvement came from more disciplined play, defenseman Adam Fox said, but the Rangers were also in control of the puck and weren’t “chasing the D zone as much.”
Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant attributed the game without a penalty, in part, to the referees doing a “great job”, but added that he also did not witness any uncalled penalties on the bench.
The next step will be to attempt to replicate this performance.
“It’s a very good thing to see, especially against a team that has great special teams – especially after how the last game went with what [the Penguins] were able to do on the power play,” Kreider said.
In an unusual twist to the regular season schedule, the Rangers will host the Penguins again on Saturday for their second meeting in three days. The teams also played in Pittsburgh last Sunday.
Pittsburgh head coach Mike Sullivan said it reminded him of the “COVID protocol timeline,” when teams traveled and faced opponents in a “two-game mini-series” — something that happened. produced four times between the Rangers and Penguins in 2020-21.
The games have playoff implications for both Metropolitan Division rivals.
The Rangers (88) are 10 points ahead of the Penguins (78) in the divisional standings, but Pittsburgh is tied with the Islanders — and three points ahead of the Panthers, with a slew of other teams nearby — for the first Wild of the Eastern Conference -square map.
“These games are so important,” Sullivan said Friday after his team’s training at Chelsea Piers. “These are division games. We are fighting for a playoff spot. These are important matches. It’s unique in the sense that it doesn’t happen very often in today’s schedule or in this season’s schedule.