AV’s player usage trends starting to show

November 5, 2013, by
Photo: Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Photo: Christian Petersen/Getty Images

When the Rangers hired Alain Vigneault as the new head coach, one of the big things he brought with him was the tendency to distribute zone starts with extreme bias. It was something we saw with John Tortorella, but not to this extreme. The easiest way to see how AV is using his forwards and defensemen is using Rob Vollman’s Player Usage Charts.

The chart takes QoC and zone starts to graphically represent where each player falls in the four quadrants (Shutdown, Two-Way, Sheltered, Less Sheltered). Shutdown is in the upper right, Two-Way upper left, Sheltered bottom right, and Less Sheltered bottom left.

We use this information to see who AV leans on for offensive zone draws, defensive zone draws, against tough competition, or who is getting cupcake minutes. The only filter used is a minimum of four games played for the season, so it eliminates some of the temporary call ups.

On defense, the Rangers are evenly divided into just two of the four categories: Shutdown and Sheltered. It’s no surprise that Dan Girardi, Ryan McDonagh, and Marc Staal are the guys that fall into the Shutdown category, while Anton Stralman, Michael Del Zotto, and Anton Stralman John Moore fall into the Sheltered category.

When you see how each player is used, RCorsi becomes a lot more meaningful. Although we are still victimized by small sample size, we expect that the Shutdown guys will have negative RCorsi’s and the Sheltered guys will have positive RCorsi’s. For the most part they do follow this pattern, but Staal (+2.28) and Del Zotto (-4.34) are the outliers. These are on-par with their respective CF%, which isn’t all that surprising.

Photo: Jim McIsaac

Photo: Jim McIsaac

For the forwards, the trends are a little bit different from what was expected thus far. Just 11 forwards have played a minimum of four games, and these 11 fall into Shutdown, Two-Way, and Sheltered categories. But the players that fall into these categories are not what you would have expected thus far.

Of the three guys getting sheltered minutes (Ryan Callahan, Derek Stepan, Brad Richards), two (Stepan, Cally) were playing against much stiffer competition last season. We expected that Richards would be getting a ton of offensive zone starts, but it appears the injury to Rick Nash has changed the plan a bit. Derick Brassard is the only guy falling into the Two-Way matchup category.

The rest of the players fall into the Shutdown category. That is a bit misleading for two reasons. First, we are victimized by small sample sizes and scoring effects. Second, since AV is known for giving his offensive horses upwards of 70% OZ starts, it’s tough for the other guys to really get enough OZ starts to move out of that category. It is worth noting that Brian Boyle, Derek Dorsett, and Dom Moore are the guys getting the fewest OZ starts.

Looking at the RCorsi numbers, Brassard and Richards are the only guys on the positive side of RCorsi. Everyone else is in the negatives. Remember that RCorsi compares players to their teammates (CorsiON – CorsiOFF). And remember that this only includes guys that have played four games prior to the Anaheim game last night (Carl Hagelin, Chris Kreider, and J.T. Miller are omitted).

The RCorsi numbers don’t necessarily match up with the CF% numbers (a percentage value of CorsiON), and that is mostly due to the nature of the stat. It’s not to say that the Rangers are not driving puck possession, but comparatively within the team some are more successful than others.

So what does all this tell us?

AV’s strategy is to use zone starts to his advantage. Using just the bubble location on the player usage charts is a good way of seeing how AV deploys his players. Adding in RCorsi is a great way to get an idea of how effective a player is at driving possession given the type of matchups and zone starts he is getting. Generally speaking, I like to use all three in conjunction with each other since it tells the entire story, using match ups, zone starts, and puck possession instead of just one or two.

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Categories : Analysis


  1. Walt says:

    Given the stats, you made my earlier post valid. MDZ should be moved for a closer, and if the Oilers are willing to trade for him, and give us a decent return, AMF, adios my friend (clean version ).

    • Chris F says:

      No to Yakupov!

    • Centerman21 says:

      Anything the Oilers have that can help the Rangers would cost an arm and a leg. Eberle is probably the best fit being the Rangers need a skilled top 6 forward. He’s a point per game player on the right team. He just about is a PPG player in Edmonton. I think the Rangers could use a defenseman that knows what to do with the puck. That makes the forwards more a threat to score. This team is coming together. Just need a shooter. Preferably a Dman but a big forward helps as well.

  2. Chris F says:

    Sheltered defensemen would be Stralman, Del Zotto and MOORE. You listed Stralman twice.

  3. Mikeyyy says:

    If trade for petry. He’s a good banger with a shot.

  4. Gary says:

    Relax guys. The team’s fine. Just fine. Although I still say the goalie is over rated (with the qualification being that he is rated as a goalie god). He’s just top 5-7 in the league. No more, no less.

    • Dave says:

      Please name the 4-6 goalies you think are better than Hank.

    • Centerman21 says:

      I would like to hear what 6-7 goalies are better than Hank. Who has better numbers than Hank since 05′? Quick can be in the conversation along with Rinne as far as consistency but neither are as good for as long as Hank. No goalie in the NHL responds during and after a bad game or goal the way Lundqvist does.

  5. Sean says:

    We need to get rid of Pyatt, Boyle and MDZ. Package them up and send them out.

    • Walt says:

      Two of the three, not Boyle, he can play!!!

      • Chris F says:

        I’d rather see MDZ stick around. We’ve been purging the NHL-level team of homegrown talent over the last year. Dubinsky, Anisimov, Thomas, Erixson, and lots and lots of talk regarding Girardi, Staal, MDZ and others.

        Now I know they’ve injected new homegrown talent to fill these roles, Krieder, Miller, Fast, and we have McIlrath waiting for a hole to open on the blue line, but I really want to see the organization have a little more patience with guys they’ve invested a lot of time in developing. MDZ fits this bill. Keep the kid around please!

        • Walt says:

          I agree to a point, but it appears that MDZ is going backwards this season, and is unsure of himself. We have needs, and in any trade one has to give up something to get something in return.

          I hated to see both Dubi, and Artie go, but look at what we got in return. True Nash is hurt now, and hopefully he returns soon, but we got quality in return. As for the other players mentioned, Girardi, it seems his shelf life is coming to a slow end, and Marc may want to play with his brothers in Carolina, although I’m in no hurry to move either of them. Thomas for Kristo, I think was a good move, and Erixson still plays in the AHL, that says something about him doesn’t it?

          Now when it comes to Pyatt, need I say more, the guy is useless!!!!!

  6. Bloomer says:

    Boyle can play Walt and the kind of player that every team could use.

    • Walt says:

      I’m in your corner on Boyle!!

      • Centerman21 says:

        You just have to watch the game and see Boyle play. You see a guy with little to no skill driving the net busting his rump along the boards and blocking shots. Every winning team has a guy like Brian Boyle. The guy everyone roots for. His buddy Prust left him last year and it hurt his play IMO. He’s been much improved this year.

  7. Prustyballs94 says:

    I’m confused why Staal is considered to be getting “shutdown” minutes and Stralman is considered to be getting “sheltered” minutes. According to BTN their deployment and QOC isn’t that different. Staal getting 46% Offensive zone starts and Stralman getting 50% zone starts isn’t a huge disparity.