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St. Louis’ struggles go beyond goals

Photo by Scott Levy/NHLI via Getty Images

Photo by Scott Levy/NHLI via Getty Images

In the comments section of yesterday’s goal breakdown, BSB regular SalMerc made a comment about how Martin St. Louis’ presence on the ice seemed to be opening up space for others. I thought that was a solid idea for a post, since he isn’t scoring. We’ve looked past snake bitten players in the past (see: Dubinsky, Brandon) when they are doing other things to assist their teammates, so this seemed to be another case of that. If player’s that just can’t seem to score are doing the right things on the ice, then the ship will eventually right itself and the player will begin scoring again. At least, that’s the theory.

Looking at the Rangers team page on Extra Skater, the first thing to notice is that in his 14 games since the trade, MSL is facing the toughest competition on the team (tied with Nash at 29.9% ToTm% QoC). This helps us conclude that SalMerc’s observation is an accurate one: His on-ice presence is affecting how the opposition matches up against him. He is drawing the top defensive assignments, which opens up the ice for his teammates. It’s a small sample size, so we need to take this with a grain of salt, but since it is MSL, we can assume these matchups will continue.

Since St. Louis isn’t scoring, he needs to be doing more than just drawing tough assignments. He needs to be driving puck possession (I’ll be using CF%, Corsi-For, and puck possession interchangeably as synonyms throughout the remainder of the post. If you need a refresher, click here), especially considering how adept the Rangers are at driving puck possession (second in the Eastern Conference).

Looking at his individual stats page (click on ‘show partial seasons’ to get the NYR/TBL splits), MSL is –at least comparatively to his time in Tampa Bay– driving puck possession at the rate of a 52.1% Corsi-For ratio. That’s 2% better than his numbers with Tampa Bay. But, when you compare him to his teammates using CF% relative, he’s not performing the way you would want to see (-3.1% CF% rel).

A concern here is that despite his increased offensive zone starts (61.2% in New York, 54.1% in Tampa), his relative puck possession took a dive. It is expected that an increase in offensive zone time would lead to increased puck possession. That’s why the relative number is so important, and a bit alarming.

But therein lies a part of the problem: MSL has never been a puck possession driver. His relative numbers in Tampa were (usually) in the negatives, and his straight CF% was usually below 50%. From a raw puck possession standpoint, he’s actually adjusted nicely into the system, showing increased ability to drive possession with his increased time in the offensive zone. From a relative standpoint, there’s still a long way to go.

As Suit pointed out, although Marty has played under many different systems and styles of play, he is used to being fed the puck between the seams and has had to adjust while in New York. This has shown in his numbers (no goals, negative relative puck possession). The numbers aren’t especially pretty at the moment, but MSL is too great of a player to remain completely snakebitten. Call me an optimist I guess.

13 Responses to “St. Louis’ struggles go beyond goals”

  1. SalMerc says:

    Nice write-up. While numbers do justify many things, I feel there are things that you just can’t compute; chemistry and presence. MSL draws attention on the ice. Whether he opens up space by that gravitational pull is hard to measure. I think he does. Replacing Cally in the lockeroom is not a task MSL can do. What he can do is enable the coach to look down the bench and see a guy who will help you in the offensive zone. Great players need to be a bit selfish. MSL is playing good teammate, by passing and looking before shooting. When he realizes selfishness is a positive quality for a scorer (above being a good teammate on the ice), he will regain his touch and the NYR will have 3 awesome scoring lines that sooner or later will match against the 3rd pair defensively.

    • Dave says:

      I’m not concerned too much about him to be honest. It’s troubling that he hasn’t scored yet.

      As for the locker room, I can’t really comment on that. I don’t know what kind of affect he has, or if he is even vocal.

      • Puck Luck @Centerman21 says:

        Hey Dave. This kid McCarthy the Rangers signed is a pretty big guy. He’s listed as 6’1″ 205lbs. With a right handed shot he may fill a need for the Rangers down the road. Maybe we even get a look at him in camp next fall. It’s about time Sather found a big forward. I feel there’s less risk with a bigger forward than say a Thomas or even Duclair. McCarthy may be able to play a checking line role if his offense never equates to the NHL. Where as Duclair will need to score to be effective. He’s too small for today’s NHL IMO. The players are bigger & faster than ever before. Not many little guys make it to the show.

        • Dave says:

          I can’t really comment on McCarthy, I haven’t watched him play much.

          Duclair was a first round talent, there were some bogus “attitude” issues that were blown out of proportion, which is why he fell so far. He’s the real deal.

  2. Seahorse says:

    Have you guys looked, I think its called, team shooting percentage. Its the shooting percentage of a line while you are on it, ala if st Louis is on while hagelin scores it counts for his shooting percentage and same with misses

    • Dave says:

      On-ice shooting percentage. It’s 5.1% in his 14 games with the Rangers.

      • SalMerc says:

        Is that average (above or below)?

      • Puck Luck @Centerman21 says:

        He’s gonna be fine. The playoffs will begin eventually and he may catch fire. Who knows? He’s been skating hard and forechecking. If he goes through the playoff and is still a dud. Then I’d get on him. I don’t think that’ll happen tho. He works too hard for that and in the post season where the checking is tight and there’s less room. That’s what you need to see. I have a feeling that AV will center his offense around many of his top offensive players. In a way Torts never did. Nash needs to play like he has in the last 4-5 games in the playoffs and he & MSL should click on the PP at the least. That’ll get them going IMO.

  3. Craig says:

    At this point it has to be a mental thing with Marty. He is a tremendous competitor and is over- trying and struggling with certain adjustments. This guy used to kill the Rangers when with Lightning and he is definitely not washed up yet. Soon as he nets a couple, he will be more relaxed and will begin to flow with the game. Don’t be surprised if he explodes in the playoffs. There is still a lot left in the tank

  4. SalMerc says:

    Just FYI – I see Hags is moving to the first line, in an effort to replace Kreiders speed. Seems like JT is fully out of the mix. I thought he played pretty well 2 games ago.

  5. Just give St Louis more time; he’s only going to be 39 in 2 months and he’s only making $5.5 mil.

    St Louis is not benched and is only playing because Sather could be very well be on the hook for giving up two #1 draft choices