Rangers need to ramp up their power play

Brad Richards looks to pass in the third

Brad Richards looks to pass in the third period of a game against the Philadelphia Flyers. (Jan. 24, 2013) (Credit: Getty Images)

Oh, those power-play blues.

The sample size is only four games, but the Rangers' power play, which was cited by players and coach John Tortorella after last season's 23rd ranking in the league and 15.7-percent conversion rate as a target for improvement, is slightly worse.

Although the Rangers improved in the last postseason, scoring 13 goals in 73 tries (17.8 percent), the addition of former Blue Jackets power forward Rick Nash in the summer hasn't translated into immediate success.

The Rangers are 2-for-18, tied for 24th in the league at 11.1 percent, after Thursday's games. They've mustered only 21 shots in those 18 power plays and just one goal in 5:15 worth of two-man advantages. And the success rate at home is the same as on the road: 1-for-9, an equal-opportunity struggle.

The Toronto Maple Leafs (2-2), who visit the Garden Saturday night, have scored three power-play goals on the road in 13 tries for a 23.1-percent rate.

Ryan Callahan, who scored a five-on-three goal against Pittsburgh, diagnosed the problems after a 2-1 loss to the Flyers on Thursday in which the Rangers could not connect on a two-minute, two-man advantage followed by a five-on-four for 1:45 in the third period. He said the Rangers are not moving the puck quickly and not shooting enough.

"We had a hard time getting the puck in the zone to start with, and we set it up and passed it around, and we had a couple of good looks from the side there," Callahan said. "But in that situation, you want to try to get as many pucks in the net as we can, and we didn't do that."

Tortorella noted that Nash, Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik didn't come through in Philadelphia. He and assistant coach Mike Sullivan have juggled personnel and positioning.

After Gaborik's hat trick against the Bruins, Tortorella raved about how the winger has changed from being "a perimeter player" and noted that a majority of his 41 goals last season were scored closer to the net. But Gaborik was on the power-play point at times.

Notes & quotes:Kris Newbury was returned to Hartford after playing 5:25 against the Flyers, so Arron Asham, sidelined with a groin strain, and / or Chris Kreider, a healthy scratch against Philadelphia, could return against the Leafs . . . After two back-to-back sets, the Rangers do not play another until March 7 and 8 against the Islanders and Senators.

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