#fancystats: Puck possession trending in the right direction for Rangers

October 27, 2013, by
Photo: AP

Photo: AP

It is tough to analyze #fancystats on a game-by-game basis or early on in the season. There are too many fluctuations that come with small sample sizes that skew the numbers. For example, the Rangers CF% and FF% remain in the basement of the league because of that awful game in San Jose. The reason why it’s tough to analyze on a game-by-game basis is because teams have bad games. These #fancystats –like all statistical analysis– is best used to analyze the trends over time, not just one game.

That said, there is a lot of value in looking at puck possession and noticing trends. For example, the Rangers are really hurt in the CF% and FF% categories by two games: San Jose and St. Louis. Both games saw them finish under 40%, meaning the opposition had 60% of the 5v5* shot attempts. The Rangers lost both those games. They lost another three where they had an edge in puck possession, but their goaltending and defensive coverage was atrocious (Anaheim, New Jersey). The other two losses: Phoenix (deserved to lose), Philly (dominated puck possession, good goaltending, losses happen).

*For all intents and purposes we will always be using 5v5 stats, since the majority of the game is played at 5v5.

So what does all this mean?

There is an old saying: You are never as bad as you are at your worst, and never as good as you are at your best. The Rangers were bad this road trip, but they are not a bad club. The defensive miscues will subside, so games like San Jose and Anaheim shouldn’t happen again. The goaltending is in a decent state, with Cam Talbot showing he can be a more than capable backup for Henrik Lundqvist. Games like St. Louis and New Jersey should be few and far between.

Source: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America)

Source: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America)

Perhaps the biggest thing to notice, aside from the new-found compete level that they have reached over the past two games, is the possession trend. Over the past four games, the Rangers have out-possessed their opponents. New York went 2-2 in that stretch, and an argument can be made that New Jersey was the only game in that stretch where they deserved to lose.

I’m not a big “what if” kind of guy, but what if the J.T. Miller goal is upheld in Philly? All of a sudden we are looking at 3-5-1 or 4-5 instead of 3-6.

But since I don’t like what if’s, let’s just use the facts from the standings. The Rangers are five points back of the third spot in the Metro Division (top three guaranteed playoffs) with two games in hand.

As puck possession continues to trend up for New York, the wins will come. Throw in the eventual returns of Lundqvist and Carl Hagelin this week, with Rick Nash and Ryan Callahan hopefully returning next month, and you have a very dangerous Rangers club.

At this point, you’re probably nauseated by the amount of optimism we throw out on this blog. It’s in our nature to be optimistic, since things are never as bad as they seem. However the stats agree with us. The team is starting to click. The kids (Miller and Chris Kreider) appear to belong. The wins will come.

Categories : Analysis


  1. Pete says:

    Lets hope that Nash indeed comes back next month but silence from club about him is deafening, hoping for a speedy recover…

    • Dave says:

      Yea that’s worrisome.

      • Centerman21 says:

        I don’t think the fact they aren’t saying much means anything. They didn’t give much info on Nash last year when this happened. We got lucky and he returned quickly.
        The thing I don’t get Dave, is that they haven’t put him on LTIR. They could use the cap relief which would be almost his entire contract since the Rangers have zero cap space I believe. Wouldn’t that kind of space make teams looking to shed salary approach Sather? That’s 7.8 mil he could use to add a winger. A Glencross type gritty hard charging winger. 2.5 through 14/15 for Glencross would be a solid addition.

  2. Bloomer says:

    One stat that is important to review is odd man rushes. Philly scored their first goal against the Rangers on a break away. Detroit scored their first on a 2 on 1. It appears the Ranger squad has improved in this regard from their Western road swing but I think they still have a ways to go.
    Good defence is team defence. Relying on your goalie to make a spectacular save or your defenseman to break up a 2 on 1 is not good team defence.
    If the Rangers don’t tighten up here, they will be ripped apart when they start playing the beast in the East.

  3. Chris F says:

    Pouliot’s performance last night is the exclamation point on his work ethic. I’ve heard many fans berating him, presumably for lack of production (as if he were the only one). But, having watched every game this season, I’ve seen nothing but effort, physicality and skill from him. He hustles to the puck, goes into the boards to battle, and throws surprisingly big hits. He’s also shown flashes of why he was a first round pick. He has alot of skill. Find him the right linemates and he can be a great asset to the Rangers.

    I also really liked the play of Kreider and Miller last night. They deserve this opportunity.

    • Dave says:

      Kreider and Miller have been showing that they belong, at least in the short term. But it’s only been two games.

  4. Walt says:

    Last night’s game showed me how much Kreider has improved, seems more sure of himself, and he is showing the desire to stay with the parent club.

    When Hags, and Callie, as well as Nash ( hopefully real soon), I could see both Miller, and Kreider staying up, Fast going down, Pyatt being shipped off, and the team improving 10 fold. We do have the makings of a good team, if the “d” gets it’s act together, and the old Hank comes back to form.

    I have always liked Boyle, go ahead laugh folks, but watching him last night, he is going to start scoreing soon. He was robbed on a few occasions, but he made his presents seen.

    After saying all of this, it still would be great if brain dead Dolan gives Slats his walking papers, or put him in a position where he can’t hurt us any more.

    • Chris F says:


      Send Fast to Hardford. Haven’t decided who, out of Zuke, Pyatt and Dorsett or even Moore, needs to go to make room.

      • Pete says:

        Pyatt seems like the logically choice. He’s familiar with the system so I can see why AV has given him the time he has but as the team gets healthier he makes the most sense to be moved.

      • Walt says:


        I’d switch Callie, and Nash around to have a more balanced attack.

        It’s a no brainer, Pyatt has to go, the man really can’t skate, slow as a freight train, and for a big guy, never defends himself, so what good is he??????? Answer: None!!!!!

        Also, the more I look at the 3rd line, the more I like it!

        • Pete says:

          I have to give Pyatt credit though, he was a beast in the playoffs. Tough to let a guy like that go.

          If he were however to bounce back and forth between the press box and the 4th line once everyone gets healthy I could live with that if indeed he’s the kind of guy that just goes beast mode when it really counts. Too many players do the opposite in the playoffs…

          • Walt says:

            OK as a seat warmer, maybe fill in for injuries, but not a regular any more. I honestly believe he is getting a bit long of tooth, and this may be his last team to play for, based on performance!

      • Rangers Fan in Boston says:

        Love what dorsett brings. He should be a fixture on the 4th line when the team starts to get in a groove.

    • Sally says:

      I heard Sam Rosen say Brian Boyle’s name many times last night and all very complimentary.