Just Call Them The Power Rangers

Hey, more power to the Rangers.

They have now crawled back to respectability (aka NHL-.500) with four straight wins, and though all is not perfect, the Rangers have a pulse and a purpose.

Because, mostly, they are the Power Rangers.

The Rangers’ three power-play goals in the third period Monday gave them a 5-3 win over Columbus and left Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella fuming in a brief (under one minute) post-game press conference that is, um, familiar to Rangers watchers.

The Rangers trailed in that game, 2-0 and were bailed out by their power play.

Hey, a good power play is like a box of band-aids. Teams’ problems, big and small, fade into the background when the man-advantage group is humming. And the Rangers’ is.

[Rangers-Bruins Post Game Coverage Begins Tonight at 10:30 PM On MSG and MSG GO. Download Free.]

Over the last five games – four in a row of which were wins – the Rangers’ power play is 7-for-19. It has scored at least two PPGs in a game five times through 16 games this season to rank sixth in the NHL at 24.2 percent.

So, yeah, it’s been the best thing they’ve done all season, by far, and its importance is even more evident when the power play isn’t working. The Rangers lost three straight games when the power play went 1-for-11 earlier. It had another 0-for-6 in a loss to San Jose at home, which was just about rock bottom (leaving the Rangers at 2-6-2).

The reason for the success is fairly simple: Simplicity. It also has a bit to do with personnel.

Mika Zibanejad, who is more willing and more than able to fire one-timers as a righty in Alex Ovechkin’s office (left circle), is an upgrade to Derek Stepan. Pavel Buchnevich, the second-year player with so much skill, but a skilled player also willing to fire away shots, is an upgrade.

Chris Kreider, who was removed from the power play when it slumped but is back on it, is a force in front of the net, but as much of a force in retrieving pucks off face-offs (as has been Buchnevich, who retrieved one, then scored himself Monday). Slick-passing Mats Zuccarello has been the Rangers’ best power-play forward for years, even though he struggled there earlier this season.

But mostly, the difference is at the point, where the new quarterback, righty Kevin Shattenkirk, runs the show. He’s doing, so far, what Keith Yandle briefly did, but better; and what a cast of thousands have failed to do since Brian Leetch. Shattenkirk, with time, is a dangerous passer, has an uncanny knack for getting shots through to the net, and just calms down the whole unit.

This is where Shattenkirk excels.

Finally, too, pucks to the net is a mantra that they not only mouth, but by which they live.

A while back I asked Shattenkirk about what makes it work.

“The little things you may not see, to the naked eye,” he said. “It’s retrieving pucks off of face-offs. We’ve kept a lot of plays alive that looked like maybe they were going to ice pucks, and I think our hard work has allowed us to keep plays alive and that frustrated teams and gets them out of position and after we’ve kind of established the simple play and we’ve had teams in the zone for 30-40 seconds, that’s where we see some seam passes and the prettier plays.

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“I think it’s all just been the right foundation from the start and we’ve been kind of ad-libbing from there.”

The winning streak began when the Rangers scored a pair of power-play goals in the third period after falling behind red-hot Vegas 4-2 after two periods, and won, 6-4.

The Rangers’ best game of the season to date – in Tampa last week – was a 2-1 win in overtime. The power play was 0-for-2 in that game, but the Rangers managed to hang in and grab a second point from a 1-1 tie on J.T. Miller’s OT goal. They scored an important PPG in a 5-4 win over Florida, then the three against Columbus.

So, yeah, not all is perfect in the Rangers world, but it’s improving. They still give up too much defensively, even if it is now caused more by individual breakdowns than game-long chaos in their own end.

Their starts are better. Their structure is better, overall. Their compete level is so much better – not even close, really – than it was earlier. They are 7-7-2 entering Wednesday’s home game against banged-up Boston.

A lot of that is thanks to their power play.

[Rangers-Bruins Post Game Coverage Begins Tonight at 10:30 PM On MSG and MSG GO. Download Free.]