Comparing Avery’s And Christensen’s Ice Time

December 12, 2011, by

When looking at the raw ice time numbers, there are a lot of conclusions drawn about the ice time given to Sean Avery (over the last few games) and Erik Christensen (last night). There were a few angry tweets from what appears to be the majority of fans thinking that Avery got the shaft because he received so little ice time, while Christensen is clearly favored because of the ice time he got last night.

Looking at the total ice time, it’s easy to see why people would jump to those conclusions. In Buffalo, Avery received just six shifts for a grand total of 3:48 of ice time. Last night at the Garden, Christensen received 16 shifts for a total of 12:54 in ice time. Looking at those numbers alone, it would appear that Christensen indeed has more favor with the coach than Avery. But looking deeper at the numbers, that’s not exactly true.

Against the Sabres, Avery played each of his six shifts at even strength, and did not receive one shift on the powerplay or on the penalty kill. Two shifts at even strength per period is exactly what is expected of a fourth line player who does not receive –or deserve– any time on special teams, especially in a game that was not decided until the third period. That in itself is why Avery’s ice time appears to be diminished.

Looking at Christensen, it’s easy to see why he has more ice time: he plays the powerplay. In last night’s win over Florida, the Rangers had three powerplays. One went the full two minutes, one went 1:08, and the last one went 1:55. That’s a total of 5:03 of powerplay time for the Rangers throughout the game. Christensen received an extra 1:29 of powerplay time. That plays into his extra ice time.

Another aspect of his increased ice time last night: The Rangers blew out the Panthers. The game was decided long before the third period began, so coach John Tortorella began playing his fourth line more often. In a non-blowout situation, a coach generally rolls his lines in a 1-2-3, 1-2-3-4 pattern. What that means is that he will play his first line, second line, and third line in a row. Then he will start again with his first line, and go through to his fourth line. This rotation generally repeats itself.

*-Naturally there is more to this (matchups, special teams), but for the sake of this post I’m simplifying it.

With the game out of reach for the Panthers, Tortorella ditched the usual rotation and rolled his fourth line more often, giving Christensen more ice time late in the second period and for the entirety of the third period. This explains his 11:25 of even strength TOI.

Let’s remember that before Christensen wound up a healthy scratch, his last game was the 2-1 loss to Florida last month. He played just 8:01 during the game, with 6:05 coming at even strength. That’s an extra two shifts over Avery’s ice time from Buffalo. This was Christensen’s first game in a month, where Avery played in each of the games that he was a healthy scratch.

Let’s also remember that these are fourth line players, and neither will be with the club next year. Perspective is important too.

Categories : Analysis


  1. Bloomer says:

    The Rangers are winning and all fans are worried about is Averys ice time? Hockey is a team game its not about little Jonny getting more ice time. All players are all contributing to the Rangers success, why should their ice time be reduced in favour of Avery?

    • Dave says:

      Well said.

    • tmd39 says:

      My question is why did Avery get benched for in the first place? What’s the record since he returned?

      • Chris in MA says:

        He didnt get benched, persay. He just doesnt get used in a wide variety of situations, thus didnt see much ice time.

        If EC can play in some of those other situations, and is a shootout whiz (supposedly) then it makes more sense ot have him in the lineup

      • VinceR says:

        Posting this a third time seems like overkill, but it’s just too relevant to not do so:

        From Blueshirt Bulletin’s “Stats to Chew on”:

        “- The Rangers are 7-1-1 since recalling Carl Hagelin and John Mitchell. New York is 11-3-1 with Sean Avery in the lineup and 17-3-1 with Jeff Woywitka in the lineup.”

        Would there be so much hubbub if Woywitka was scratched?

  2. Walt says:

    Numbers could be misleading, as well pointed out by this article.

    I am a Ranger fan first, and a player fan second. Bloomer makes one heck of a point, we are winning, quit the bitching, if a given player isn’t getting his playing time. The last time I looked, it was understood that you earn the playing time, period.

    With that stated, I still hate to see Avery be sent down, and we all know that to be the case, in favor of WW. In my opinion, he is nothing but a slack!! His shoot out skills is the only thing he brings to the table, and yes we could use him there, but we still have EC for that, no need for both to be carried on the roster at the same time!!!!!

    • Dave says:

      Exactly. The team comes first. EC played a good game last night…and this is coming from a known EC hater.

  3. kgb16 says:

    I am a huge Avery fan, but I hardly noticed he wasn’t in the lineup last night. The Rangers showed me just about everything I’d want to see. If we are playing this well, Avery is irrelevant, though he is entertaining. And EC played pretty well too, barely missing a goal.

  4. Rob says:

    You raise some good points, but we also had a pretty big lead on Buffalo saturday night, and he was reluctant in using Avery late in that game as well.

  5. Chris in MA says:

    As a staunch EC hater and Avery lover. I cant fault Torts for going with EC right now. everyone else is playing so well that the so-called ‘spark’ that Avery ‘provides’ hasnt really been needed.

    When youve got a winning team and a winning attitude, who would you rather have filling the 4th line bench spot?
    A: A guy who will hit a couple people and probably cause a ruckus, maybe chip in at even strength?
    B: A guy who will not hit anyone, wont cause a ruckus, maybe chip in at even strength, but can easily chip in on the PP and is great in shootouts?

    Taking names/repuations out of the picture, its easy (for me, at least) to see why EC gets the nod.

  6. Zen says:

    The argument for EC playing is as plain as day. Neither will get much ice time, but at least EC can contribute on the PP and in the shootout. Avery is a solid energy guy, but we have a lot of guys like that and he can’t really be trusted to do anything else. I personally don’t like either player, but EC provides more to the team right now.

  7. Section 121 says:

    Certainly EC does not fit into this team’s identity which Torts has been adamant about creating and maintaining.

    EC likes doing figure 8s out there whereas Avery is a straight ahead player.