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What’s Wrong With Ruslan Fedotenko?

When the Rangers signed Ruslan Fedotenko out of his PTO last year, it was a hotly debated topic. In fact, it spawned one of our most controversial and most active posts at that time, and it even led to a bet with me and a Penguins fan. I lost the bet (Fedotenko didn’t get to 15 goals), but it didn’t matter: Fedotenko was one of the best offseeason bargains of the 2010-2011 season.

His play earned him another one year contract for this season, and very few could see any downside in that. His chemistry with Brian Boyle and Brandon Prust was evident, and to be honest, the Rangers needed bodies to fill out the roster. However, this year the Ruslan Fedotenko that we knew last year is nowhere to be found. He seems to be gripping his stick a little too tight, and more often than not we are seeing him fan on shots, or just shank them altogether.

The good news is that Fedotenko’s defensive play has still been stellar. He is second on the team in regards to quality of competition faced (QUALCOMP of .060), while playing with the second worst quality of teammates (QUALTEAM of -.366). His Relative Corsi (a stat reflective of puck possession) is not good (-17.4), meaning that there are more shots directed at the Rangers net when he is on the  ice as opposed to off the ice. His Corsi isn’t indicative of much though, considering the quality of opponents and teammates he plays with.

Looking at his starts and finishes in the offensive zone, Fedotenko starts 44.4% of his shifts in the offensive zone, but finishes 47.3% of his shifts in the offensive zone. To analyze this with his Corsi (puck possession), what this means is that although Fedotenko starts less than 50% of his shifts in the offensive zone, he still manages to finish more shifts in the offensive zone, despite not having puck possession for the majority of the shift.  To break this down further, basically Fedotenko’s shifts consist of containing top competition from scoring, gaining puck control, gaining the zone, then dumping the puck for a change. It’s a tough job, but someone needs to do it. And Fedotenko does it just fine.

However, that doesn’t show up on the stat sheet. Fedotenko has been demoted to fourth line duties with Prust and the newly acquired/returned Mike Rupp, and played just nine shifts in last night’s win over the Islanders (a total of 5:32 in ice time).  This is down from his 14 shifts and 9:19 in ice time against the Devils on Tuesday, and 19/13:33 in Phoenix. It’s tough to really explain the lack of ice time, other than John Tortorella’s style of not playing his fourth line too much. That’s not to place blame on the coach per se, but it is a potential explanation nonetheless.

It’s the coaches job to find the right mix of lines and ice time that get the team going. The Rangers have won three in a row heading into tonight’s pre-Winter Classic showdown with the Flyers, where Fedotenko will presumably have his hands full with the Claude Giroux line. But for those, including myself, asking what exactly is wrong with Fedotenko, the answer is nothing. The biggest difference is that we don’t see it on the stat sheet. Fedotenko is still an important cog on the machine that is the Rangers. Defensive play is often understated and underappreciated, and it appears to be the case with Fedotenko this season.

15 Responses to “What’s Wrong With Ruslan Fedotenko?”

  1. RangerSmurf says:

    “Fedotenko starts 44.4% of his shifts in the offensive zone, but finishes 47.3% of his shifts in the offensive zone. To analyze this with his Corsi (puck possession), what this means is that although Fedotenko starts less than 50% of his shifts in the offensive zone, he still manages to finish more shifts in the offensive zone, despite not having puck possession for the majority of the shift.”

    Yes, his zone shift still isn’t good. His expected zone finish is 48.32% (50- just based on the natural equilibrium of hockey. So 47.3% is below average there. True, it’s slightly forgivable for competition, but he deserved the 4th line treatment moreso than either of those (AA, Dubi) that got it before him.

    • Dave says:

      Oh I know. His zone starts aren’t good, but when you factor in everything else, it’s getting a little overblown about how he isn’t contributing.

      Does he deserve to be on the 4th line? Absolutely. But that’s only because no one on the top 9 now should be on the 4th line.

      • RangerSmurf says:

        Well, defensively he’s been Christensen-esque. Look at the even strength shots against:

        Fedotenko: 34.64 per 60
        Christensen: 34.01 per 60
        Step: 32.64
        Richards: 30.22

        Those are your bottom 4, with most everyone else grouped around 29-30. Dubi’s at 28.5, Hagelin/Mitchell at a ridiculous 22 and 24.5 respectively.

        Feds is also last among the PKers in shots against on, by a fair margin.

        He has been really not good, aside from chipping in a few goals at key times (which does have some value)
        It should take a lot for him to crack the top 9 again this year.

        • Dave says:

          Correct, but I attribute his shots against to the qualcomp he’s facing. Yes, Step/BR are #3/#4 in qualcomp, but there’s a decent difference in the stat, and it’s almost mostly attributed to defensive pairings faced, not forwards faced.

          EC is in a league of his own in ineptitude defensively though.

  2. Chris in MA says:

    The more I read, the more I love this blog.

    I read the headline and immediately said to myself: ‘Nothing. Hes fine with the role he plays on this roster.’

    … and thats exactly what the post said.

  3. Zen says:

    Feds is just solid bottom six role player. Some random years (i.e. last year) he overproduces, and that is why Ranger fans overrate him a bit. With both Boyle & Prust providing nothing offensively, it only compounds Fedetenko’s offensive woes. That being said, he plays well defensively and that is all we need him for.

  4. Scully says:

    He’s still a great role/glue guy to have. I also think you’re seeing less ice time out of him because the rangers haven’t taken an overabundance of penalties lately so they haven’t had him out there as much on the PK.

  5. The Suit says:

    Great post and points all around. The few that hated this signing were angry because they thought Feds would keep our youngsters like Hagelin from getting a roster spot or ice time. Obviously those worries were for naught…

  6. Walt says:

    I for one love Feds, and appreciate his defensive work! That stated, we didn’t sign him to be an offensive machine, now did we?

    Let’s also face the fact that it doesn’t take much, a split second loss of speed, and your scoring ability goes down the drain. I believe that he may have lost that split second, but again, we didn’t sign him for his offensive skills.

    Now with the pending return of WW, maybe Feds gets to sit against teams that don’t require a major defensive effort, and where we need a sniper. Let’s not lose sight of the fact that at years end, Feds will be gone, and be replaced with a kid who will have a bright future ahead of him. That may be the time that we Rangers fans will realize how much this man contributed to our cause!!!!!

  7. opie says:

    Feds is solid during the regural season but very dangerious when it counts in the play offs look at his playoff stats here are his best two years

    2003-04 Tampa Bay NHL 22 games 12 goals 2 ASS 14 points (Cup win)

    2008-09 Pittsburgh NHL 24 games 7 goals 7 ASS 14 points (Cup win)

    and his total

    Total NHL 88 20 13 33

    i’m just wish we still had prospal to go along with him he is having a good season on a junky team may be we can reup on prospal at the trade dead line

  8. maddrush says:

    Feds is here because Torts trusts him in any situation. Not a superstar, but an ultimate pro. One of the best utility players available, that can fill any roster spot when asked. Manages the game through out the season, turns it up in playoffs.
    He’s also a machine of a man stamina wise.

  9. Tripodi says:

    I think Feds is doing his job just fine. Sure, a bit more offense would be nice I guess, but he’s done what he’s supposed to do so far this year.

  10. Pete says:

    …and he scores, good job Feds.