Rangers ice time evenly distributed through first set of games

October 10, 2013, by
Your ice time leader through three games.

Your ice time leader through three games.

One of the major issues many had with John Tortorella was his refusal (inability?) to run four lines and three defensive pairings consistently. It’s tough to fault him, as he didn’t necessarily have the required depth to trust his bottom-tier players. After all, when your fourth line has Kris Newbury and your bottom pairing has Stu Bickel or Roman Hamrlik, it’s tough to gain trust in those bottom players.

The Rangers this year are deeper, but there is also a much larger reliance by Alain Vigneault on the fourth line and bottom pairing. It does not appear that this club will have guys on the bench for all but five minutes per game. Looking at the TOI/60 through the first three games of the season, the only players in single digits are J.T. Miller (8.7 TOI/60) and Jesper Fast (9.7 TOI/60). Miller is in the AHL, and Fast is only with the team due to the extended road trip. Suffice it to say: AV is not over relying on his top guys.

Yes, I’m aware that the TOI/60 decimal places are out of ten, but you get the point.

Looking at the TOI leaders among the defenseman, you might see a surprise at the top of the list (all numbers are at even strength):

Player TOI/60
Michael Del Zotto 18.5
Marc Staal 17.7
Dan Girardi 17.5
Ryan McDonagh 16.6
Anton Stralman 15.0
John Moore 14.9

Yes you are reading that right, MDZ is the TOI/60 leader through the first three games this season. Since MDZ is the leader, it’s natural that Staal comes in at second on the list. Considering last year the Girardi-McDonagh combination was the top minutes pair by a mile, this definitely qualifies as a surprise. Of course the re-addition of the Staal to the lineup makes the Rangers deeper, so the minutes difference isn’t something to worry about.

Notice how everyone is within four minutes of each other over a full 60 minutes. This is nowhere near what the Rangers were doing last season.

As for the forwards, these are a little more in line with what we would expect through the first three games (all numbers are at even strength):

Player TOI/60
Brad Richards 15.3
Derek Stepan 15.1
Mats Zuccarello 14.7
Taylor Pyatt 13.6
Brian Boyle 13.1
Derick Brassard 12.8
Derek Dorsett 11.3
Ryan Callahan 11.3
Dom Moore 11.0
Benoit Pouliot 10.9
Arron Asham 10.8
Rick Nash 10.1
Jesper Fast 9.7
J.T. Miller 8.7

Richards has been the Rangers best forward through the first three games, so it’s natural that AV would lean on him a bit more than the others. Since he is on a line with Stepan, it’s natural that he would be #2 on this list. Nash would be up here too, but missing two periods skewed his numbers a lot.

It’s worth noting that the only two forwards who don’t average a double-digit TOI/60 are the two kids who either aren’t in the NHL, or won’t be once the club is fully healthy. After that, every forward is within five minutes of each other at even strength.

Naturally the ice time will vary once we start adding in special teams, as some players are relied upon more than others in offensive or defensive situations. For example, the Richards-Stepan-Nash trio will see more overall ice time because they play on the powerplay, ditto the Callahan-Boyle duo for the penalty kill. It is why we measure TOI/60 at even strength, as it eliminates the special teams variable.

The biggest takeaway from this is that we are getting what we wanted: No over reliance on five guys, more even distribution of ice time, and more rest for the top players. This isn’t a fad for AV either, this is something that will continue all season long.

Categories : Analysis


  1. Bloomer says:

    Its really important that the hockey players get equal playing time, so that their mummies don’t get mad at the coaches. More shots at John T. like he is the reason the Rangers suck so far this year.

    • Dave says:

      Balanced ice time is important to keeping your top players fresh. The concern with JT was that he had 4 guys playing 5 mins or less.

      • The Suit says:

        Bloomer no one is taking a shot at JT here. As Dave mentioned, it all comes down to depth. Torts rolled 4 lines with Tampa because he could. Hell Tim Taylor was getting 12 mins a night on the 4th line when TBL won the Cup in 03-04.

        You got to move on buddy. I liked Torts as much as you did, but he’s not our coach anymore. Time to shift our analysis elsewhere bro.

  2. Todd says:

    Play the kids!!!!!

    • Centerman21 says:

      Yeah the defensive zone coverage sucks and the Rangers are in a rebuild so why not play the kids so we can develop them for next season. There’s no chance of making the playoffs so what does it matter if the kids can’t cover. Just tank the season. Let Kreider & Miller learn on the fly. Might as well call Dallas Eakins for next year.
      I’d like to see some rookies get ice time too but most of them proved they’re close but not ready for the NHL just yet. Let them play 15-20 minutes a game in Hartford. They aren’t getting that in the NHL right now with the team being expected to win and while they’re having all these problems learning the new strategies under AV.

  3. Mikeyyy says:

    Av is still evaluating players. Giving them more time based on performance is good right?

    Trying to keep th fresh on a back to back. The bipolar performances while troubling does not equal doom.

    3 games does not a season make.

  4. Walt says:

    Hay Bloomer, when the play-offs begin, and the team is not worn out, then remember your post today!