#Fancystats: On keeping Boyle/Pyatt over Miller

October 7, 2013, by
(Source: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America)

(Source: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America)

Yesterday we looked into why the organization decided to keep Jesper Fast over J.T. Miller, focusing on zone starts and puck possession in the first game of the year. Naturally the conversation shifted to why Taylor Pyatt and Brian Boyle were kept, since these are the two whipping boys among the forwards this year. So, let’s address that.

First and foremost, before we even get into #fancystats, hockey is a game played in all three zones. A well-built team has depth players that can play in the defensive zone and shutdown the opposition’s offense. That is why this club needs a guy like Boyle. He will be AV’s Manny Malholtra, getting the majority of his zone starts in the defensive zone. That was evident on Thursday, as Boyle didn’t start a single shift in the offensive zone.

As for Pyatt, many are quick to write him off as a failure because of last year’s struggles. There is some credence to this argument, since Pyatt was slow and unable to really make a difference in an aggressive John Tortorella system. However as Suit pointed out this morning, AV is more of an overload/passing coach, relying less on the blue-collar skating and more on creativity. Pyatt was effective in Vancouver (under AV) and in Phoenix (under Dave Tippett, who has a similar coaching style to AV).

It’s also worth saying that Miller is a guy that needs top-six minutes, powerplay time, and penalty kill time. He won’t get that in New York right now. But I digress.

Looking at both Pyatt’s and Boyle’s #fancystats from the first game on Thursday, both players drove puck possession exceptionally well considering their zone starts (Boyle – 0% OZ start, Pyatt – 9.1% OZ start). Pyatt had a whopping 75% CF%, and Boyle a 57.9% CF%. Miller on the other hand, who started 16.7% of his shifts in the OZ (worth noting he started 66.7% of his shifts in the DZ), had a 31.3% CF%. ¬†More on CF% here.

There are two things to notice from these stats: First is that Miller continued his struggles from last year in driving puck possession (-8.5 RCorsi). This isn’t to say that Miller is ineffective and a bust, just that the 20-year old needs some time to round out his game away from the puck. Positioning plays an important role in puck possession. The second is that, based on the one game, Pyatt is much more comfortable with AV’s systems, since his numbers last year were pretty bad.

The moral of this story?

Miller just isn’t NHL ready at the moment. It is a fact of life. He is better served with top minutes in the AHL, learning the game at a slower speed, and taking those adjustments –specifically positioning and play away from the puck– and applying them to the NHL level when he is ready. The organization does not view him as a bottom-six player, which is the role he would be playing for the Rangers. At the moment, it’s a round peg in a square hole.

As for Pyatt, if one game tells a story (note: it doesn’t, but it buys time) then Pyatt will be one of those players who could earn redemption this season. His lack of foot speed isn’t exploited as much in AV’s style of play. It is why he was successful in Vancouver and Phoenix. If we are preaching that we need to give the team around 20 games to find their feet and get adjusted to AV, shouldn’t the same rule apply to the players as well? Of course, my opinion is the minority opinion. I think I’m the only one of the five of us here at BSB who think that Pyatt should be given a little time.

One final point: Whether you like it or not, Boyle is an integral part of this club. Hockey is a three zone sport, and Boyle will be one of those defensive specialists for this team.

Miller is an important player for the future of this club. At the current moment he is not NHL ready, and the club will gain nothing by rushing him to the NHL to play fourth line minutes. Because of the investment the Rangers have ¬†made in the not-even-21-year-old yet, they will take their time with him, and rightfully so. After all, isn’t it more important to develop these guys than kill their future?


  1. Walt says:

    Boyle can PK, take face offs, and check well. Pyatt can’t, why are we even discussing these two in the first palce? Boyle is considerably better. I hope they realize Pyatt is useless, sit him, or trade him, but get rid of him however it’s done.

  2. steve says:

    I agree. Boyle is a keeper, but Pyatt…come on… why not let Hrivik skate in that role…he can live with 3rd line minutes, his faster , big and creative and put up a few points in pre-season. And was defensively responsible. WHAT AM I MISSING?

  3. Melissa says:

    Honest question for you in regards to Boyle – yes he is important to the club but do you see him as a third line center? If not (and I’m not sure I do), then it comes down to who is more valuable – Boyle or Dominic Moore. If Boyle is moved, that will be why.

    I agree with you on Pyatt but I watched him closely in Phoenix so know he can do more.

    • Dave says:

      I’ve been on record that this team is at its deepest when Boyle is a 4C. With Hagelin out, it makes it tough for them to keep him there.

    • Walt says:

      Boyle is best suited for the 4th line center, no arguement there. If not there, use him on the wing, he has played there well!!!!

  4. Puck Luck (@Centerman21) says:

    Hey I just heard the Flyers fired Laviolette. They hired the assistant coach Craig Berube. That move was inevitable but the blame has to sit with Holmgren. He has neglected defense go years and made Philly a final resting place for goalies. Bobrovsky did not look like a future Vezina winner while in Philly.

    • Dave says:

      Philly is in a heap of trouble. There’s no direction, no goaltending, and no defense. The coach wasn’t the issue there.

      • Puck Luck (@Centerman21) says:

        I agree. Holmgren should have fired himself too. He is in the hole he dug for himself chest high and sinking. The loss of Pronger really set that team back with a lot of years and money on that contract. He didn’t help any by throwing older players like Levalier & Strait rather large multi year contracts. Holmgren is pretty bad at building a team. The Flyers are no longer a threat to the Met Division elite. Will need years to rebuild the farm as well!

  5. AD says:

    Sometimes lost or overlooked in the Boyle discussion is that he has been one of our best players the past two playoff seasons — that has not gone unnoticed by Rangers’ management as well as other teams throughout the league.

    I think he has performed well for the roles assigned during his time with the Rangers, and certainly believe he should be higher on the depth chart than Pyatt.

  6. Ray says:

    I agree with you sentiments, Dave. Every signed player is a resource. A good organization uses all of its resources – not just the kids, not just the veterans. I expect the Rangers to get younger as the year goes on — the objective for now is to make sure we choose the best vets to keep and the best kids to call up.

  7. paulronty says:

    Miller & Kreider are both ready for the NHL, but it’s all about being able to put up with their evolution as NHL players because they will learn more playing against NHL competition than they will playing in the AHL right now. They have already showed domination in just two games in the AHL. Fast needs to be with the Pack & Pyatt needs to go, stats or no stats. This team needs to get quicker & Pyatt won’t do that.

    • Dave says:

      Did you watch the preseason? Kreider was nowhere near ready at the NHL level.

      What’s the point in calling these kids up after 2 games? Let them develop a rhythm and consistency. Lest we forget about the hype of Kyle Jean last year.

      • steve says:

        Exactly. Agree! They should be bubbling over with confidence and swagger when they come up again. They need that attitude to succeed.

        • Dave says:

          The last time they rushed a kid was Grachev. We all remember how that one turned out.

          • AD says:

            Remember the last time we didn’t give a worthy kid a chance?

            That kid was Lauri Korpikoski. Not a special player by any stretch but certainly better than anyone on our 3rd lines right now — also better than Richards the past 50-60 games as well.

            • Dave says:

              Current third line is Pouliot-Brassard-Zuccarello. I’m ok with that.

              • AD says:

                what makes you think our top center and winger are part of a 3rd line?

                at worst that is our 2nd line, and that is how AV has been using them

      • paulronty says:

        Miller only played two games in preseason but he showed a lot. As for Kreider he played pretty well against L.A. What did Pyatt or Asham do that was so great in the preseason. Nothing.

  8. Mikeyyy says:

    You gotta be hungry for it. That’s what my old college hockey coach used to say.

    Are you hungry ?

    Do you want it?

    How bad?

    Then go out on the ice and TAKE it cause no one is giving it away.

    We weren’t very good but everyone hated to play us. Because we left it all out on the ice every night.

  9. HARLEMBLUES says:

    Pyatt,i’ve seen enough.If Moore looks good on the ice its been a few yrs..I think Boyle may be traded and Moore side to the 4th line center spot.We need depth players who can play not just be a body aka Pyatt.A little scoring a bottom would help.JT,CK will be back AV just has to see what B6 vets to keep around.

  10. bernmeister says:

    Boyle can stay until someone pays top $ for him.

    Pyatt should go.
    He + Richards should be buh bye.

  11. Mark says:

    So i can live with Boyle.. but if miller needs top 6 minutes in the minors what does that say about Fast? Doesn’t he need minutes as well? Already he sits in game 2 (but i for one am happy that Asham got to play). For all we hear about the Rangers youth from the recent drafts etc, the bottom line is that as far as forwards go, very few get ice time.