As the season has progressed the biggest concern has been the play of some of the veterans, specifically Benoit Pouliot and Taylor Pyatt (when healthy), and why a player like J.T. Miller isn’t in the lineup instead. None of the three have been consistent enough to warrant a full time spot on the roster, and it can be argued that some have been bad enough to get Prucha’d full time.
Starting with the vets, Pyatt brings a physical game and some good board work to the lineup when healthy, but he has cement in his skates. Pouliot is a fluid skater and creative offensively, but does nothing without the puck and has taken bad offensive zone penalties. Miller is a bit of a mix, bringing good board work and good skating to the lineup, but he is lost without the puck and in the defensive zone. This seems like a “pick your poison” type of decision, but let’s look into the stats a bit.
Player A: 1-1-2, 48.8 CF%, 48.8% O/D% Zone Starts (OZ/DZ starts, doesn’t count NZ), 27.9% Totm%QoC
Player B: 0-1-1, 45.6 CF%, 39.8% O/D% Zone Starts, 27.9% Totm%QoC
Player C: 2-2-4, 50.8 CF%, 51.7% O/D% Zone Starts, 28.0% Totm%QoC
None of the above players are putting up solid numbers. None have consistent offensive output, although Player C appears to have done the least offensively with the better offensive opportunities. QoC here is a wash, so it’s really output versus O/D% Zone Starts.
For all intents and purposes Player B is used in defensive situations, and it hurts his CF% and offensive output. To be fair, his linemates also have similar offensive output, CF%, and zone starts.
Player A is getting a lot of sheltered minutes, but hasn’t done much with almost 50% OZ starts. Although, this is the first time I’ve seen CF% and Zone Starts match up to the tenth-of-a-percent.
Without looking at who each player is, who would you prefer in the lineup? I think it comes down to matchups.
When you need an offensive player in the lineup, player C (Benoit Pouliot) is the guy that gets inserted into the lineup. Considering he is now playing third line minutes in an offensive role, he is perfect for this team need.
Player B (Taylor Pyatt) is someone you would want for a defensive role. That said, the Rangers seem pretty set with Brian Boyle, Dominic Moore, and Derek Dorsett playing the fourth line shutdown role. Pyatt seems to be an odd man out here.
Player A is J.T. Miller. Miller doesn’t really have any specific matchup potential here. Considering he is still just 20 years old, he should be sent back to the minors, something we’ve discussed here.
Pouliot is certainly not the best option out there for the Rangers, but he is the only option at the moment. Let’s also consider that he is playing the off-wing, which makes defensive responsibilities a little tough, and may be contributing to his troubling play without the puck. A right handed shot there would be ideal, but for now, Pouliot is the best option.