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SportsColumnistsSteve Zipay

Rangers shooting the puck at a high rate this season

Rangers left wing Carl Hagelin (62) celebrates with

Rangers left wing Carl Hagelin (62) celebrates with teammate Brad Richards (19) after Richards scored a goal against the Florida Panthers during the second period Photo Credit: AP

Fans of a certain age will recall one of referee-turned-broadcaster Bill "The Big Whistle" Chadwick's pleas when defenseman Barry Beck cruised the point during the power play.

"Shoot the puck, Barry!" was picked up and chanted by the blue seaters, and the catch-phrase has since devolved into language somewhat more, well, blue-er, in recent seasons at the Garden, as the Rangers faithful have become perhaps even more demanding that players fire away, rather than look for the perfect pass.

Overall, however, the Rangers are shooting the puck at a high rate. With 901 shots on goal, they were ranked 12th in the NHL entering Saturday. Chicago led the league with 1,046. The quality of the shots is another question, as is the issue of getting more pucks on goal.

As more teams collapse around the goalie, clog shooting lanes and sacrifice to protect leads, the Rangers have had another 429 attempts blocked and have missed the net 348 times in 29 games.

Use Brad Richards as an example of accuracy. He's tied for 22nd in the league in shots on goal with 92. He has eight goals, or an 8.7 percent shooting percentage. St. Louis' Alex Steen, having an outstanding season, has 20 goals on 91 shots; Pittsburgh's Chris Kunitz has 16 goals on 93 shots.

Derek Stepan has 67 shots on goal (tied for 85th), Mats Zuccarello has 63, Ryan Callahan 57 and Chris Kreider 55. Rick Nash has 44, but in only 12 games, so he will climb to the top of the heap fairly quickly.

Not much has changed since the start of the season. The 15 Rangers who have played in each of the last nine games (we're throwing out the scratches) have attempted 469 shots, but only 245 were on goal, 118 were blocked and 106 missed.

What's notable? Kreider does not get many shots blocked. Of his 32 shot attempts in the last nine games, 25 have been on goal, two have been blocked and he has missed the net five times.

Ryan McDonagh, who has emerged as the team's most productive defenseman, but of his last 33 shot attempts, he got 14 on net, had 13 blocked and missed the net six times.

Who could shoot more? How about centers Derick Brassard and Derek Stepan: Just 26 and 25 attempts in those nine games. Stepan is a dyed-in-the-wool playmaker, but maybe the addition of J.T. Miller to Brassard's wing will create more space for Brassard to let fly.

Even strength

Forget power plays for a minute. Tampa Bay's Steven Stamkos leads NHL players at 3.64 points per 60 minutes when teams are 5-on-5. The top Rangers through Friday?

No. 9 Rick Nash 3.01

No. 17 Carl Hagelin 2.63

No. 38 Chris Kreider 2.31

No. 89 Brad Richards 1.93

No. 173 Mats Zuccarello 1.56

Heard around . . .

Have to think the healthy scratches against the Devils don't bode well for Michael Del Zotto (his third in six games) or Benoit Pouliot (his first). Not sure what the market is for Pouliot, on his fifth team in five years, but still hearing there's interest in Del Zotto. Rangers would like a defenseman back, preferably a righty . . . D Brady Skjei, 19, the Rangers first-round draft choice (28th overall) in 2012 and a freshman at the University of Minnesota, is on the preliminary roster for the U.S. Team in the World Junior Championships in Malmo, Sweden, which starts the day after Christmas . . . Told the top draft-eligible kid to watch is Jack Eichel, a 6-2 center for the U.S. National Team Development Program, who has 12 goals and 21 points through nine games . . . Jeff Domet, producer for CBC's Hockey Night in Canada radio, and me agree on one thing: The top tweets from any NHL player are from Canucks G Roberto Luongo, under the name Strombone1, who has more than 218,000 followers. Had to laugh.

New York Sports