In our third post that comes via a great graphic from LAR (Loyal Anonymous Reader), we have a great chart of where Rick Nash scores his goals. Of Nash’s 21 goals this season, he really only scores from two areas: In front of the net and at the off-wing face off dot. Neither of these should really surprise anyone, as we’ve known about his sweet spot for a while.
Most of those even strength goals from down low are part of his patented “skate through everyone below the goal line then cut back and use ridiculous reach to slide it under the goalie” move. Almost all of those come at even strength, which makes sense since he’s driving to the net more at 5v5. When the Rangers are on the powerplay, they tend to set up more, thus less goals down low.
What really interests me is eight goals from the off-wing face off dot. Yes, we know he likes to shoot from there, and that’s not what interests me. What really piques my interest is that he reminds me of Jaromir Jagr in terms of location. Remember how much Jagr loved to line up on the off-wing dot, especially on the powerplay, and just have pucks fed to him so he could line up shots?
I bring this up because when Jagr was with the Rangers, then-coach Tom Renney really designed the powerplay with Jagr as the focal point, and the guys on the ice executed this to perfection. Michael Nylander and Marty Straka were essentially there to get the puck to Jagr at that spot. That powerplay formation was pretty potent.
It can be argued that the personnel on the current powerplay is just as skilled as that Jagr powerplay. If that strategy was so successful with Jagr there, then why haven’t they tried setting it up this way with Nash? It’s clear he likes to shoot from that spot, all three of his powerplay goals came from that spot.
With the powerplay really struggling, it’s worth a shot to try this out. Nash is that game breaker the Rangers wanted, and it seems that the powerplay execution doesn’t necessarily allow him to let it go.
Every great power play has their primary scorer on the off-wing face off dot. The Caps have Ovechkin lined up there and the Lightning have Stamkos there, so why shouldn’t the Rangers follow suit? Both of these clubs run the same powerplay that the Rangers do (umbrella/1-3-1), so there are many similarities.
We aren’t in the locker room, so we don’t know what Sully has in mind for the powerplay. For all we know, he’s been preaching this and the guys have failed to execute. Maybe he hasn’t been preaching this. Either way, it’s clear Nash likes to shoot from there. Maybe it’s time to take advantage of that.