Rangers can’t let power play problems continue to fester

RALEIGH, N.C. — There is an element of the law of averages to how the Rangers have performed on the power play over the past three games.

After operating at 43.5 percent (10-for-23) between Game 2 against Washington and Game 2 against Carolina, some regression is only to be expected.

And if it was the regular season, then three games in a row without a power-play goal would be a red flag — there were just three such stretches over the 82-game slate — but not at all a reason to panic.

Hurricanes goaltender Frederik Andersen makes a save on a shot by New York Rangers center Vincent Trocheck
Hurricanes goaltender Frederik Andersen makes a save on a shot by New York Rangers center Vincent Trocheck. JASON SZENES FOR THE NEW YORK POST

But it is not the regular season, and the Rangers are in danger of letting a 3-0 series lead over the Hurricanes get to 3-3 should they lose here Thursday night.

So there is no built-in element of long-termism that dictates the power play will figure it out given the time.

“Just gotta execute,” Mika Zibanejad told The Post after the team practiced Wednesday. “I think we put a lot of onus on ourselves, and this has happened throughout the year as well. Playing well, pucks are going in, talk about how good the power play is. And when the puck doesn’t go in and you don’t get the chances, you want to look at ourselves. I think just in terms of that, we want to be better in that respect.”

The Rangers have not been a complete zero in terms of chance creation, but it has dropped off markedly.

Carolina’s penalty kill, while still aggressive, has backed off a bit, but the issues have been self-inflicted as much as imposed.

Chris Kreider #20 of the New York Rangers skates off after celebrating with his teammates
Chris Kreider #20 of the New York Rangers skates off after celebrating with his teammates. Jason Szenes / New York Post

Passes that the first unit usually makes easily have been just a little bit off. So too has some of the decision-making.

After Dmitry Orlov went off for roughing in the second period of Game 5, Adam Fox passed off a one-timer chance to try and feed Zibanejad.

That pass, in turn, was inaccurate — not by enough to lose the puck, but by enough that Zibanejad lost the chance for a one-timer himself.

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These are the small margins by which things are decided on this stage.

“We gotta be a little bit more sharp,” Vincent Trocheck said. “Execute a little bit better. Their penalty kill has been one of the best in the league for the last three years, it’s not something we can just make light work of.”

When it has gotten going, the power play has given the Rangers a decisive advantage in these playoffs.

Getting that back before a potential Game 7 would be very much ideal.

“We gotta find a way to get our own motion going and be a little bit faster,” Zibanejad said. “And take advantage of the time that’s been given to us when [they] do sit back a little bit more.”

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