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Rangers’ success on power play both a gift and a curse

SAN JOSE, Calif. — The lack of scoring coming by the Rangers at five-on-five has intensified the club’s reliance on the power play.

It has been clear for the past two seasons that the power play can be an integral part of the Rangers’ offense, but lately when it hasn’t been operating at its usual standard, they haven’t always been able to make up for it elsewhere.

The power play has kept the Rangers in some games they had no business being in. But it also has failed them when it needed it most. Regardless, the dependence on scoring goals with the man-advantage is not feasible for a team that is trying to compete with the well-rounded, upper-echelon clubs in the NHL.

“I think when you get an opportunity on the power play, you want to score, you know how important it is,” Mika Zibanejad said when asked if the Rangers feel pressure to produce with the man-advantage when things are going at five-on-five. “I think we saw it last year through the regular season and through the playoffs. Obviously, we want our five-on-five to score more goals and do that. But when we get the chance on the power play, we know it’s important, but I don’t think putting extra pressure helps at all. There’s pressure enough. We know what we have to do. We know each other.

Chris Kreider (r.) and Artemi Panarin have been a big part of the Rangers’ power-play success.

“It’s obviously a big opportunity and a big honor to play on the power play. Having said that, there’s a lot of responsibility and a lot of pressure anyways.”

In five of their first 18 games of the season, the Rangers have received at least half of their final goal total from their power play. Their record over those five games is 1-4. The only two tallies the Rangers scored in their overtime loss to the Kraken on Thursday night came on the power play, which included Vincent Trocheck’s game-tying score with 1:54 left in regulation that snatched the Rangers a point.

That game was a perfect example of how the Rangers power play, which was ranked eighth in the NHL at 24.6 percent as of Friday, can come up clutch. They scored on two of the four stretches in which they had the man advantage. The Rangers’ 16 power-play goals entered Friday tied with the Coyotes, Stars and Lightning for fourth in the league.

It’s obviously not plausible to capitalize on every power play, but the Rangers can’t be putting themselves in a position in which it’s their only hope.

After skating in his 10th game of the season on Thursday, Julien Gauthier is no longer waivers-exempt and will have to pass through the wire if the Rangers want to assign him to AHL Hartford.

The Rangers canceled practice to have a day off Friday before they face the Sharks on Saturday night at SAP Center.

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