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The Rangers will be a dangerous team in the playoffs

April 17, 2014, by
Photo: LoHud

Photo: LoHud

The title and story sounds familiar. The Rangers will be a dangerous team in the playoffs. The usual reason is because Henrik Lundqvist can steal a series, something he’s done multiple times in the past. But the Washington Capitals are not in the playoffs this year, so there needs to be a different narrative. This year’s team ¬†looks different. This team is one of the hottest in the league heading into the playoffs. This year, the #fancystats put them up there with the best.

Puck possession and PDO (SV%+SH%) are two stats we use regularly around here. It’s been proven many, many times that teams that drive puck possession are teams that are successful. Teams with a high PDO (over 100) generally were “more lucky” and have abnormally high SH% or SV% (or both). Teams that rode those to the playoffs generally fizzle out early, as the luck runs out and their SH%/SV% regress to the mean. This may seem complicated and a bit of an abstract concept, but Exhibit A is the 2011-2012 LA Kings. Exhibit B is the 2013-2014 Toronto Maple Leafs, who didn’t even make the playoffs.

The Rangers are in the top-ten in the league in puck possession at 5v5 (Fenwick-For of 53.6%), and trail only the Bruins in the Eastern Conference. Puck possession at 5v5 is important, but perhaps the best part is that the Rangers have been trending up in 5v5 puck possession in close situations. Aside from that abysmal ten-game stretch in October, the Rangers haven’t even been near 50% Fenwick-For (FF from this point on). They’ve been hovering around 53% since February, and above 50% since November 7, as shown in the chart below.

Courtesy of ExtraSkater

Courtesy of ExtraSkater

Now we hit the PDO part of the discussion, which again favors the Rangers. PDO is a measure that combines SH% and SV%, and should average around 100 (a .920 SV% and an 8% SH% gives you 100). The Rangers fall at 98.7, but that has also been trending up as pucks have started going in and the goaltending has returned to the form that we expect. From the below chart, he Rangers have spent just eight games under a 100 PDO (rolling 10-game average) since January 12, and those eight games were during their cold spell in March.

Courtesy of ExtraSkater

Courtesy of ExtraSkater

So what does all this tell us?

Teams that are able to control the play and have strong goaltending (most of what PDO is calculated from is SV%) are teams that become very dangerous in the playoffs. In 2012, #fancystat folks were all over the Kings, practically drooling at how much of a sleeper they were. Only those that did not see the underlying numbers (tops in the league in FF%, strong goaltending, PDO trending up) were surprised at the run they made.

The Rangers of this year may not be the Kings of 2011-2012, but they are eerily similar. Both teams had terrible starts. Both teams were among the best in the league in puck possession. Both teams really turned it on late. Both teams had strong goaltending. Both teams were able to run four lines consistently. Both teams had strong defense.

This is not to say the Rangers will make a 2012-Kings run this year.¬†The Kings did not have a team like the Bruins in their way, a team that is also a strong puck possession team with strong defense/goaltending. This Rangers squad will make things difficult for any team facing them, and they certainly won’t be a push over if they get to the Bruins.

"The Rangers will be a dangerous team in the playoffs", 5 out of 5 based on 2 ratings.
Categories : Analysis, Playoffs


  1. Walt says:

    All the numbers aside, let’s just go out there and beat the snot out of Filthadelphia, and win a cup already!!!!!


  2. HARLEMBLUES says:

    Must win the first two at home.No more slow starts at MSG.

  3. Ken in Shandaken says:

    Nash, MSL, Richards with something to prove. Stepan stepping it up of late. Three scoring lines and a fourth that gets the job done. A PK that can’t be beat and a D that rocks. All of this and of course Henrik the icing on the cake. Score some power play goals and Filthadelphia heads off the ice and onto the links. LGR!!!!

  4. SalMerc says:

    As a longtime Ranger fan, I hesitate to allow myself to think we have a shot. My own little self-preservation system. That said, I do feel guys like Richards and Stall (looking for contracts somewhere) and Nash and MSL want to step into the spotlight. One game at a time guys, one shift at a time.

  5. Hatrick Swayze says:

    Dave, you make a pretty strong case in the 2nd to last paragraphs in comparing the Rangers to the Kings of 11-12.

    Despite all those similarities, the two teams are built differently once you got outside of the crease. The Kings were a much bigger team with 3 pretty serious centers (Kopitar, Richards, Stoll), which is something that we don’t have. Physicality was a big part of their run, and obviously for us to be successful we will have to employ a very different game. We have more of a ‘swarm it up’ mentality. We don’t play the heavy game that the Kings play, as we simply don’t have that kind of roster.

    I’m confident that we will get out of the early rounds. After that, I feel like we would need some stars to align in order to get through Boston and then whichever heavy hitter comes out of the west.

  6. RangerMom says:

    Gotta win those face-offs, boys. It all starts there (and it’s a vulnerability of ours).

    • Puck Luck @Centerman21 says:

      I wish my mom was as smart a hockey fan as you are. Wanna make a trade? You replace my mom. Your kids would have to become Eli Manning & NY Giant fans.
      In any event you’re absolutely right. The Rangers as a team and more specifically the top 9 Centerman need to be better at the draws. Even if Stepan won closer to 50% than his 42% we would make games easier. If he went all playoffs at around 48% say we could keep the top line in the attacking zone with the puck as AV deploys his top scorers in those situations. This would as BSB noted (I have to give them credit) if we win more offensive zone faceoffs we get more scoring chances and the bigger teams can’t pin us in our zone and BEAT up our Defenseman. After this we play either Pitt of CBJ. The Jackets will beat on us every chance they get. The Pens skilled players will have a field day in our zone if we don’t controll the puck.

  7. Puck Luck @Centerman21 says:

    Ah but that’s not to say the Kings had an easy run that year. They had to beat the top 3 teams in succession to make the finals. San Jose was a powerhouse then as well and the Kings ran over them. The Blues they swept were a real solid defensive team and had some bright young players proud to be in the playoffs. The AV led Canucks were an offensive juggernaut and the top seed in the West. A team with a top PP and the Kings allowed 8 goals in 5 games. With one shutout.
    This Rangers team isn’t that dominant but I expect them to ride momentum a ways into this years post season. I’d like to see them make the ECF. I think they’re good enough for that. I also think Montreal is good enough to be there as well. Even by knocking off the big bad Bruins. The Habs have some of that toughness they have been trying to mesh with the skill on that team now. Still not the hardest team to play against but they have more fire power than previous years. There is a core there that has grown together. A theme the Rangers brass should emulate this summer. Look at Eller this year. How about Patchoretty.

  8. Chris F says:

    Emery in tonight. This should be fun!

  9. Joshua says:

    Actually, the Kings did have a team like the Bruins in their way. They faced the Blues in the second round and the back-to-back President’s Trophy-winner Canucks in the first round.