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Out-shooting and out-puck-possessioning is not outplaying

Alex Brandon/Associated Press

Alex Brandon/Associated Press

Yes, I’m aware out-puck-possessioning isn’t a word.

The Rangers out-shot the Caps last night by a margin of 36-30. The Rangers out-hit the Caps by a 41-32 margin. The Rangers out-Corsi’d (out-possessed) the Caps by a +16 margin. But yet, the Rangers lost. All of these stats would make you think that the Rangers outplayed the Caps. But, leading in stats does not mean you outplayed the opposition.

The tone for last night’s loss was set just 34 seconds in, when the Rangers took a too many men penalty (I still have no idea how you take that penalty 30 seconds into the game. Did they start with 6 guys on?). The Caps may not have scored on that powerplay, but it gave them offensive rhythm and put the Rangers on their heels. The first shot on goal for the Rangers didn’t even come until eight minutes into the period. You can also make an argument that despite the fact that the Rangers out-hit the Caps, they were dominated physically. After all, how many board battles did the Rangers win last night?

If you’ve been coming here for a while, you know we love our stats. We use them as a great supplement to what we see from the Rangers, and we use them to help determine who we would want to see on Broadway from other teams. That said, there seems to be a misinterpretation about what these stats tell us.

Statistics is the study of mathematical trends over time. In hockey, we use these trends over an 82 game season, which is enough time for the law of averages (everything regresses to the average) to kick in. While that generally works out, the problem is that this is the playoffs, and there isn’t enough time for regression to occur over a seven game (or less) series. There will be times when the stats work out in your favor, but you lose, and vice versa. Last night, the Rangers out-statistic’d (again, give me a break with the wording please) the Caps, but lost.

Where the Caps won was momentum, hard work, and most importantly, execution. Touching upon what I mentioned above, the Rangers may have out-hit the Caps, but there’s not a single person that thought the Rangers were more physical than the Caps. The Caps won the board battles, they won the battles in front of the net, and they just overall out-muscled the Rangers all night. This is a separate type of physicality that just hits.

Execution was the biggest story last night, as the Rangers failed to execute in multiple facets of the game. They didn’t stay out of the box, they didn’t execute on a five on three, they didn’t outwork the Caps, and they didn’t play better team defense.

Over the course of 82 games, the stats will even themselves out, but in a seven game series, the Rangers can’t afford to wait for regression. They need to create their own luck by doing the little things. Last night’s game wasn’t a disaster (they were a post and a bad camera angle away from tying the game), but they should have been much better.

4 Responses to “Out-shooting and out-puck-possessioning is not outplaying”

  1. Chris F says:

    Dave,

    While I agree that despite statistical domination, the Rangers did not execute or sustain pressure the way that the Capitals did, I wouldn’t necessarily include momentum or penalties in those facets of the game that the Capitals excelled at.

    The calls on Asham, Pyatt and Callahan were huge momentum killers for the Rangers, and these calls were not warranted. Just as the non-call on the Stralman take-down which allowed for a subsequent Capitals goal was a huge unearned momentum swing in favor of the Capitals.

    Sure, the Caps took advantage of these opportunities, to their credit. But, it wasn’t really the Rangers fault they couldn’t maintain momentum when there were so many blatant momentum killers that were out of their control.

    Also, I liked the Rangers PK last night. Something to look at moving forward, that can be a critical momentum grabber, and they got some good scoring chances on those PKs as well.

    I think the whole episode will motivate the team, and I expect much better execution tomorrow.

  2. Ray says:

    One problem with stats like Corsi is that they ignore goaltending. At least last night, the goaltender who had the best game won. Over the long haul, Lundqvist is better than Holtby. Last night was different. Perhaps Lundqvist had an outstanding save or two last night, but I don’t remember any. He had no chance against Ovechkin, but the third goal was a bad one. And the breakaway, well those are tough but goalies in a zone do stop them; in fact Holtby did.

    On another note, I can’t help but think that the Stepan line was hurt offensively by so much time early on on the penalty kill, killing their legs.

    • Rob says:

      Sorry Ray, but to say Hank didn’t have an outstanding save or two is crazy last night. If my memory serves me correctly he had a breakaway stop in the opening period and a ridiculous glove save in the second, and made some remarkable saves on their numerous amount of power plays.

      I will agree with you that killing all the penalties can do no good to a guy like Stepan, but that falls on the coach w that unnecessary bench penalty 30 seconds in.

  3. Gary says:

    The penalty in the 1st minute was due to line matching screw ups. Rangers on the road trying to match w/ OV off the ice to start.