The Rangers lost their third game in a row against the Philadelphia Flyers in Saturday afternoon shutout at home. The loss was also notable for the presence of Dylan McIlrath and Emerson Etem in the lineup, as well as some juggled forward lines following Derek Stepan’s injury sustained against Boston on Friday. Despite playing a better game than their usual this season in terms of possession, a breakaway goal by Wayne Simmonds in the second put the Flyers up, followed by a scrappy goal in front by Sean Couturier early in the third and a late empty netter. Although the Rangers had a solid start to the game and got a decent amount of shot attempts throughout, a shutout loss at home against Philadelphia definitely stings.
Flyers 1 Rangers 0
Matt Read carries the puck through the neutral zone as Wayne Simmonds is breaking down the wing, beating the defender as he enters the zone. Simmonds then collects the pass from Read, puts a quick move on Raanta, and scores the goal.
After Wednesday night’s debacle and last night’s implosion, the Rangers are in desperate need of righting the ship against a bad Philly team. The Rangers are going to be without Derek Stepan, lost to broken ribs, so it’s expected that Kevin Hayes will center the second line with a different RW, perhaps Jesper Fast. Maybe Emerson Etem will get a shot in a top-six role. that would be ideal for me. The good thing is that the Rangers have the depth to deal with the injury.
The Flyers also played yesterday, so maybe there is some hope that they are tired. That said, Steve Mason is still a solid goalie. He keeps the Flyers in games they have no business being in. They also have some solid talent, just no depth to support it.
We are in the middle of the forewarned PDO crash, and it hasn’t been pretty. Perhaps a date with a nasty division rival is the wake up call this team needs.
Derek Stepan will be out 2-4 weeks with broken ribs. He was hit late by Matt Beleskey into the boards on a questionable hit (no supplementary discipline). Dylan McIlrath stood up for Stepan, challenging Beleskey to a fight. McIlrath got an instigator penalty –I hate that stupid rule– and the Bruins scored on the ensuing powerplay.
It’s time for the annual day after Thanksgiving showdown with the Bruins. This is the third year in a row the Rangers and Bruins play on the day after Thanksgiving (I think), and it’s the first game to be nationally televised on NBC. Something I never understood, though, is why NBC airs this game, then nothing until the Winter Classic. I don’t get that. But I digress.
The Bruins had a really weird offseason. They matched that weird offseason with an equally weird start to the season. Tuukka Rask has been pretty bad, with just a .900 SV%. They also aren’t a solid possession team. Rask rebounding to a .920 SV% is expected. Their top guys should continue to rack up points, although they have a few (Loui Eriksson) on unsustainable paces. The Bruins have top end talent, but lack depth. That may be enough for a playoff push, but it wouldn’t shock me to see them fall out of the race later in the season.
Just a note: This post will also serve as the post-game thread. No one is available to do a goal breakdown. Sorry about that.
One of the most pleasant surprises this season, aside from the team’s win streak and the outstanding play of Henrik Lundqvist, has been the way in which Mats Zuccarello has recovered from the scary injury he suffered last spring during the playoffs. Zucc has been one of the most consistent Rangers forwards so far this season, putting up 15 points in 22 games played so far this season, including a hat trick against Toronto. While it might be easy to say that Zuccarello has been the Ranger’s best forward so far this season, by applying certain measures we can see a much more complex picture emerge.
Let’s start with the good news. Mats Zuccarello has outstripped his production at this point last year by a pretty substantial amount. Through 22 games played so far this season he has 10 goals and 10 assists; represented as rates his production is 1.5 G/60, 1.5 A/60, and 3.1 P/60. Compare this to last year when in the same number of games played he had 4 goals and 6 assists for 0.6 G/60, 1 A/60, and 1.6 P/60. Suffice to say that this is marked improvement drawn into high relief by the gravity of the injury he sustained last spring. To say that he’s bounced back would be an understatement.
The Rangers got whooped against the Canadiens Wednesday night. Happy thanksgiving everyone! All jokes aside, the Rangers were brutal, but the record is still full of good things so on that note, let’s have a short thanksgiving musings shall we? Have a great day today everyone. Happy holidays.
I’ve gotten a lot of heat recently for writing negative posts on the Rangers despite the sexy record and division lead. The thing is, the Rangers are not playing well in their own zone at all and are over complicating things in the offensive zone as well. We all love the record but if the Rangers ambitions are another trip to the Finals, the play has to begin to catch up to the record.
It’s fact that the list of Rangers players meeting expectations is a lot shorter than the list of players who could be playing much better.
The Rangers were horrid on Monday night, and somehow came away with a win. Tonight they face a Montreal Canadiens team that thoroughly dominated them last month, and are one of the favorites to come out of the Eastern Conference this year. Montreal has been superb. Carey Price is following up his Vezina/Hart campaign with another solid year. The Habs basically score at will, and their defense has been great thus far.
As for the Rangers, well they need to play better. For the first 21 games, they’ve been hemorrhaging shot attempts, and it’s taken herculean efforts from Henrik Lundqvist to ensure victory. That can’t continue, and Montreal is a team that will beat them into the ground if they continue to play that way. Play better with the puck, and the ice will finally tilt in the other team’s direction. No team, none, can continually win by sitting and waiting for counter attacks. Sooner or later, those opportunities won’t come. Puck possession, dirty shots, dirty goals. They are needed.
A shutout victory against a very good team can mask a lot of deficiencies but the Rangers won’t win the Stanley Cup the way they’re currently playing – I think all Rangers fans know this. The top line can dominate all they want but they can’t play sixty minutes every game and Henrik Lundqvist can win the Vezina by a landslide but even he needs support. There is no way Lundqvist can continue this stretch of excellence unless the team start to play better in front of him.
The Rangers are winning games but they aren’t playing consistently well at either end of the rink – a handful of players aside. If it wasn’t for a potentially career year from Mats Zuccarello and Lundqvist’s sustained brilliance, what would this team’s record be? A lot closer to .500 hockey for sure.
Of course, there are a lot of reasons for optimism. The vast majority of the roster can play better, the defense certainly has the ability and collective track record to suggest they can (and will?) offer Lundqvist more protection and if team-wide discipline improves (it must) then the Rangers would spend less time in the penalty box surely resulting in more offense by default.
Over the course of the last few months I have been attempting to develop a tool that would add another layer in a person’s ability to analyze a player. Today I am proud to launch the Player Salary Analysis Module, or PSAM for short, which compares production to salary for all NHL players. The tool is available on the menu above. Forwards can be viewed here. Defensemen can be viewed here.
We as hockey fans know of the different methods we use to evalute players. We have the traditional goals/assists/points in conjunction with scouting the player. We also have the new visuals that have been getting developed by members of the analytics community that help us as fans see how a player’s underlying stats classify his role or usefulness to a team, such as the famous HERO Charts.
There has been one thing that I feel hasn’t really been touched upon though. Along with the hard stats that we as hockey fans know and the underlying stats that have been developed, there is one more thing that helps us articulate the overall value of a player. Ever since the lockout of the 2004-2005 season, it may be one of the more important aspects of a player: His salary.
If you’ve been here for a while, then you are probably expecting some kind of goal breakdown. I apologize, but you’re not getting one this morning.
The Rangers cannot continue at this pace. It is unsustainable. They are not playing well, they are getting extremely lucky, and Henrik Lundqvist is bailing them out on a nightly basis. They will not continue to win games like this.
I’ve been saying the above for three weeks now. If you didn’t see it before, then last night’s game was an eye opener for you. It is certainly an extreme example of what I, along with others, have been seeing. It is not a good trend, and last night was the most egregious example thus far this season.
The Rangers won, I get that. And I am ecstatic that they won. They showed up in the third period and played significantly better. Henrik Lundqvist completely bailed them out in the first two periods, where it looked like the Rangers were just letting Nashville do whatever they wanted. It was atrocious. The Rangers did not deserve to win the game, period.