Wade Redden

A Game-Changing Power Play and Other Surprises

by Mark Owens

Last season’s power play unit ranked 22nd in the NHL and continually failed to help the team win close games. This failure came to a head in the playoff loss to the Penguins, when the Rangers squandered one power play after another during the five games.

In this season’s first 10 games, Brandon Dubinsky (against Tampa Bay and Columbus), Aaron Voros (against New Jersey) and Michal Rozsival (against Philadelphia) have contributed game-winning power play goals. Wade Redden scored a game-tying power play goal against the Lightning in game two, helping the Rangers to a 2-1 win.

In addition to the game-changing power play unit, several players have truly stepped up their play this year, contributing to the team’s 7-2-1 record.

Voros already has nine points this season after accumulating just 14 last season, when he played regularly with superstar Marion Gaborik.

Dubinsky has 10 points in 10 games and is on pace to double last season’s 40 points (14 G, 26 A). He is quickly becoming the Rangers’ best player (after Henrik Lundqvist).

Nikolai Zherdev has a reputation as a supremely talented underachiever, but is off to a really good start in New York with three goals, five assists and a +7 rating.

Paul Mara has been incredibly steady and assertive, racking up 30 penalty minutes along with two assists and a +1 rating. The Rangers have lacked snarl on the blueline for a long time and need Mara to continue roughhousing in the defensive zone.

Blair Betts continues to be an outstanding penalty killer but has played a lot better at even strength this season, with one goal, one assist and a +3.

Colton Orr clearly worked on his skating and stick-handling in the off-season, and has shown tremendous improvement making plays and forcing turnovers. The Rangers now have a truly effective fourth line, unlike last season’s HBO line with its whopping minus rating and miniscule offensive production.

One unpleasant surprise has been Chris Drury‘s slow start (0 goals, 2 assists). Where does he fit in? Is he really a $7 million third-line center? He sure didn’t click playing right wing with Markus Naslund and Scott Gomez. Maybe Zherdev can get Drury going.

Nigel Dawes (one goal) is also off to a slow start but should start producing now that he’s playing on Gomez’s line. Gomez helped turn Brian Gionta into a 48-goal scorer in 2006; let’s hope he can come close to doing the same for Dawes.

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