When Marc Staal was diagnosed with post concussion symptoms, most fans knew that the Rangers were going to have some trouble addressing the hole he leaves in his absence. Replacing Staal is impossible, although Ryan McDonagh seems to be filling in just fine, but the biggest issue came when the Rangers tried to piece together a third pairing, and wound up with Steve Eminger, Brendan Bell, Jeff Woywitka, and Tim Erixon all spending time there.
Erixon and Bell are in the AHL now, leaving both Eminger and Woywitka back in the lineup for the foreseeable future. The problem is that neither one of them should be playing steady minutes on a regular basis, and Eminger is off to a terrible start to the year. In nine games, Eminger is pointless with a -7 rating. He has looked lost in his own zone, and can’t seem to do anything right in any zone on the ice. As bad as he has looked, his advanced metrics show he is even worse off than we thought.
Eminger’s Corsi rating –a rating that values puck possession– is atrocious. The only one on the team with a worse Corsi was Erixon, and he’s a rookie. Coupling his awful Corsi with the fact that 45% of his shifts start in the offensive zone, and you get a player who can’t maintain puck possession despite being given the opportunity. His Qualcomp is middle of the road for the team, but still doesn’t help his case. GVT numbers are currently unavailable (small sample sizes).
This is one of those cases where the eye test matches the metrics test: Eminger has been awful and needs to be better. With Staal out, and Michael Del Zotto being ‘babied’ a bit with his matchups, Eminger needs to provide veteran stability on the blue line, something he is not doing. Although these are small sample sizes, Woywitka has outplayed Eminger thus far, and would get many votes to stay in the lineup if and when Staal returns.