Mailbag: Puck possession, Stepan, scoring depth, and DorsettNovember 4, 2013, by
Received a few good questions via email and Twitter over the past couple of days:
Q: You spend a lot of time talking about puck possession, mostly in a post saying the Rangers are heading in the right direction. How can you use puck possession to measure how they will perform?
This is a bit of a loaded question, so let’s address a few points. The reason why we use puck possession (Corsi, Fenwick) over SOG here is because SOG only counts saves and goals. But not all shots get through or hit the net. Posts don’t count as shots. The theory is that the more time you spend directing the puck at the net, the better your odds are of scoring, and the less your opponent has the puck. Puck possession means nothing if you can’t score, but shooting percentage is almost impossible to predict, aside from regression to the mean. If the Rangers are controlling play, they will get the puck in the net.
Q: Did Saturday night’s game show that Derek Stepan finally broke out?
Stepan wasn’t going to score zero goals this season. The guy had 30 shots without a goal, he was not only due, but due in a big way. With his hat trick, he is back to 10% shooting and on pace for about 20 goals this season, which is what we expected from him. With Nash out he will need to step up his game. The good thing is that his line with Chris Kreider and Mats Zuccarello appears to be clicking.
Q: The Rangers have just three guys with over two goals this season, and one is hurt. Is that a cause for concern with Nash’s return date unknown?
Without a doubt, the lack of scoring has been a concern. The Rangers had allowed two goals or less in the past six games and won four of them, with three of them coming in the last three games. Shooting percentages should eventually correct themselves, but the Rangers will struggle to score consistent as long as Ryan Callahan and Rick Nash are out of the lineup. The defense, powerplay, and goaltending are going to be critical to keeping the Rangers in the playoff hunt while they deal with injuries.
Q: What is the point of having Derek Dorsett on this roster?
To be fair, I never received this question directly. It’s more of a complaint that people have had over the past few days.
Dorsett adds a much needed physical element that the Rangers don’t really have outside of the much-complained-about winger. Toughness and physicality is something that we mentioned could be an issue earlier this year, and it has been a slight concern so far. Now don’t get me wrong: There is a big, big difference between toughness/physicality and fighting. The days of the pure fighter are long gone. Dorsett is someone who can actually play the game (was one of Columbus’ top PKers before the trade). His penalty against Carolina wasn’t the best penalty to take, but it’s tough to blame him when he gets clipped like that. Dorsett is a guy that will provide the Rangers with a physical spark like Brandon Prust did, he just won’t drop the gloves as much.
Don’t forget that you can email or tweet (info on the sidebar) any questions you have.