AV, Rangers turn on the power play

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Alain Vigneault can easily recall the hot topic when he took over as New York Rangers coach in June.

"That's all you guys were talking to me about was the power play," Vigneault joked Saturday. "What about the power play? What are you going to do about the power play."

More than halfway through his first season with the Rangers, Vigneault isn't hearing any more questions about galvanizing the power play. Now, the questions are about why it's been so effective.

The Rangers' power play currently ranks sixth in the NHL with a 21.3 conversion rate going into Sunday night's game vs. Philly. The Blueshirts were 23rd in the NHL with a 15.7 rate last season.

"A good power play is good personnel. There's a skill set but there's also certain things as far as establishing the shot and making sure you have a net presence. Those are some of the emphasis we put on," Vigneault said. "[Assistant coach Scott Arniel] is doing a real good job of emphasizing that with the players and right now we're executing. It's got to continue."

Last season it was not uncommon to hear Rangers fans booing the team on the power play, or yelling "shoot the puck!" The Rangers also ranked 23rd in 2011-12 at 15.7 percent.

The Rangers have scored a power-play goal in each of their last four games, and have tallied one in nine of their last 12 games. During that 12-game stretch, the Rangers have converted 13 of 43 opportunities.

Brad Richards credited the coaching staff for keeping the same units together on the power play, which helps with consistency, and added that there is plenty of confidence, which stems from success. The effective power play has also been an added boost for the team as it has struggled in even situations. The Rangers rank 26th in the NHL in five-on-five goals for/goals against ratio.

"Five-on-five we've been dry, especially in December. Power play has had to score some big goals and it's given the team a lot of momentum," Richards said. "[Penalty kill] has been strong all year and really done its job. It's nice to have the power play catch up to that. Keep that going. It takes a lot of pressure off your five-on-five unit."