The Rangers are getting by this postseason with defense and goaltending. They certainly are not scoring in droves, but they are doing enough of the right things to get the job done. As we are not fans of the plus/minus statistic here at BSB, it’s time we dive into some of the more advanced metrics we use to analyze performance: Qualcomp, RCorsi, and offensive zone start percentage. The results are a bit surprising.
Let’s use this table below as a starting point, with some more analysis after the jump:
The interesting part about this table –which only lists the forwards– is that the players assigned to the top competition are not those you might normally expect. In fact, the fourth line, which consists primarily of John Mitchell and Mike Rupp, has been getting time against some of the higher quality opponents, and doing fairly well at maintaining puck possession (absurd Corsi). They do all this with about 50% offensive zone starts.
Hopefully that helps people realize what exactly both are doing for the club right now.
But the surprising part here is that players that usually get time against good competition –Ryan Callahan, Brian Boyle– are not getting their usual minutes against them. With Cally, it could be a product of wanting to get him away from those players so that he has better offensive chances, but Boyle is primarily a shutdown forward. Seeing him at the bottom of that list is a bit odd.
Another alarming bit? Boyle’s -21.6 RCorsi, especially considering the kind of competition he has been facing. His 30.3% OZone start rate justifies this a bit, but that’s not normal for him. But then you look at Ruslan Fedotenko, who has similar OZone and RCorsi numbers, and maybe it’s just a matter of them struggling a bit.
Two other players of note: Carl Hagelin. Hagelin is clearly having a poor postseason. He was a major addition to the Rangers with his puck possession skills early in the season, but his numbers are way down this postseason. He isn’t facing top competition, his RCorsi is in the toilet (comparatively based on expectations), and all this while starting over 60% of his shifts in the offensive zone.
Now on to the defense, which has far fewer surprises:
Basically this is the type of table you would expect based on ice time. The only shocker here is that Bickel has been seeing some ice time against far tougher competition that expected. The fact that he is third on this list is alarming. Also alarming is Staal’s low QoC, considering he is expected to be the #3 defenseman. For all intents and purposes, Bickel and Staal should be swapped.
The other guys are where they should be. Del Zotto is having a strong postseason, but it would be nice to see some improvement on his RCorsi considering he is starting over 60% of his shifts in the offensive zone. It’s tough to argue that considering the numbers he’s putting up though.
So what does all this mean? Well, it may shift some opinions as to who might sit if and when Brandon Dubinsky returns from injury. The initial thought process is to have Mitchell sit, but he’s been playing extremely well. Fedotenko and, surprisingly enough, Brandon Prust are also candidates for a game or two off (purely based on numbers).
In the end, it is still likely that Mitchell becomes the odd man out. It’s either him or Fedotenko at this point. Torts loves him some Prust, and the guy has certainly earned his ice time. Dubinsky will be a welcomed addition back to the lineup when he’s ready to return, that’s for sure.