Oct
17

The magic number is three

October 17, 2017, by

jt miller

Three points. That’s the number we should be focusing on for the rest of the month. The Rangers, who are now 1-5 to start the season, are currently five points out of a playoff spot. Yes, it’s early, but the magic number at the end of October is to be three points out of a playoff spot. This is no arbitrary number.

In 2013, Elliotte Friedman pointed out that teams four points out of a playoff spot in October rarely make the playoffs. Part of this is anecdotal, as a good number of these teams aren’t really playoff teams. However the loser point has completely changed the landscape in hockey. Playing to .500 hockey means you’re a bad team, not a mediocre team.

Since the shootout entered the NHL, we’ve never had a season in which two teams came from that far back to make it. And only one of the three comeback kings was more than four points out. That was Calgary. The Flames were seven points out in 2006-07, then went 40-22-9 to make it. The other survivors were the Buffalo Sabres (2010-11) and Boston Bruins (2011-12). The Sabres went 40-22-8; the Bruins, 45-22-4.

That is the most telling tidbit from Friedman’s piece in 2013. Those are the only three teams (as of 2013) that had come back to make the playoffs after falling more than four points out of the playoffs in October. The 2015-2016 Pengiuns started 0-3 and won the Cup, but these Rangers are not the Penguins.

This seems counter intuitive, since there are 70+ games remaining at the end of October. But the shootout and the loser point has completely changed the strategy of the game. Last year, 95 points was the magic number to get into the playoffs. It wasn’t that long ago that 92 points was the target.

Thirteen teams in the Eastern Conference finished with at least 80 points last season. Ten in the Western Conference. Only seven total teams in the entire league finished with fewer than 80 points. And only two teams were so bad that they finished with under 70 points (Colorado, Vancouver).

The loser point has given the illusion of competitiveness to many teams. Finishing hockey-.500 is no longer the sign of a good team in the realistic sense, but finishing .500 sure does give the team some good PR to use.

Based off Friedman’s work, the Rangers –to have a better chance at making the playoffs– will need to finish out October strong, and get to three points back of a playoff spot. The team is talented, if flawed, on paper, is talented enough to get their acts together. But time is running out, otherwise they will need 40+ wins from November-April. Doable, but tough.

"The magic number is three", 5 out of 5 based on 6 ratings.
Categories : Analysis

44 comments

  1. SalMerc says:

    Interesting. I think this points to the saying “You can’t win it in October, but you can surely lose it”.

    More importantly to me is that the NYR have 25% of their home games this month. While we were a good road team last year, you need to get points at home.

    • sherrane says:

      The Rangers have been a better road team in three of the last four seasons.

      Home Road
      21-16-4 27-12-2
      27-10-4 19-17-5
      25-11-5 28-11-2
      20-17-4 25-14-2

      93-54-17 99-54-11

      • Ray says:

        Please – don’t let facts cloud the argument.

      • SalMerc says:

        I don’t dispute the home/away record. Typically home is where you can be more productive in gathering points and practicing.

        Maybe we need a 10 day, west coast tour.

    • Becky says:

      Really like how you put it: “You can’t win it in October, but you can surely lose it”.

  2. Walt says:

    Let’s see what kind of heart this team has tonight. If we loose, well the article says it all……..

  3. Bloomer says:

    Rangers play the champs tonight so things aren’t getting any easier. However the Blue Shirts forwards are due for a break out game. I predict its tonight.

    Perhaps will we see those crisp passes and smooth breakouts that we were promised from our upgraded Blueline. However Lundqvist will have to take another big swig from his fountain of youth to give his team any hope of picking up the 2 points.

    • Mintgecko says:

      I sense the same outcome tonight as well. My beef is the line combos being crap tonight but somehow they blow up the Pitts team and Hank goes into tank mode. That’s going to cause the same ripple effect that got Staal seeing top 4 minutes after his B-/C+ during prseason. AV will run with whatever gets him a W tonight so I hope that all the line combos and D pair are good enough to use going into next month.

  4. Al Dugan says:

    NYR could very easily lose the next three games. PIT, NYI, NSH. And then, what? Wait for the trade deadline and hope someone over pays for Nash?

    We have an unrealistic and biased opinion of our own players. We don’t have a star, we don’t have a sniper, and we used to have a great goaltender.

    It’s going to be a long year.

    • Rangers Rock says:

      So far someone lost the room and now all the players suck. All the players are overvalued. 100 points the last 10 years and now they all suck.
      You can see the stars but still can’t see the light.
      You, AV and E3.

      • Spozo says:

        100 points last season

        Subtract your #1 and #4 center. Add Desharnais and Shattenkirk.

        = good powerplay but awful 5v5

      • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

        Typical Rock. The 100+ points…all due to the players. The losses or playoff failures? All due to the coach. Makes perfect sense in the Bizarro World.

        Al and Spozo have it nailed perfectly. We overrate our players. We have no stars, other than our goalie who is aging and can’t be expected to carry the load largely by himself as he did in many prior seasons. We lost our 1C and 4C, and might have the weakest group of centers in the league now. We lost part of our leadership team with the departures of Stepan and Girardi. When we were succeeding under AV, it was done by committee. With arguably more depth than most teams in the league. We were the no-margin-for-error Rangers. Well coached, good execution. Few mistakes, and when we made mistakes our future HOF goalie was there to bail us out.

        All this is either gone or eroded. To compensate, our so-called “elite beast untouchable stars” needed to actually step up and become that in reality, as opposed to fantasy. They appear thus far to be unable to do so. Unless guys step up to compensate for what was lost, we will not make the playoffs. Plain and simple. A coaching change may prove necessary if it all implodes, but that in and of itself is not going to the right the ship. The coach is not the primary problem here. Not by a long shot.

        • Rangers Rock says:

          Exactly! If the players can reach 100 points it means the players are capable of being great. Screw around with the wrong formula, you then have loses. Play your favorite players and not the best players with the right combinations and you have success.
          Bizarro AV and sabotage supporters want to repeat the same thing over and over again.
          Bizarro AV can’t shift into gear and get outcoached by other coaches.
          How many chances do you give this guy that does the same thing over and over?
          Dracula Jr. want the dead to rule!
          The coach is the primary problem here and always was.

          • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

            You have no idea what the difference is between individual greatness and team success. I just explained why the team was succesful. You keep saying the players are great. A great player in my book is one who one day, will have a chance to be in the HOF. Other than Hank, who you don’t like, please name me one player on the Rangers that fits that description.

            • Rangers Rock says:

              If Bizarro AV was not coaching and let’s say Keenan type coach was at the helm We would have won a couple of Cups and the opposite would be true.
              We will never know while AV is still around who will be a HOF.
              By the way, a HOF player on the team would not put up this sabotage retarded coach. I don’t think Cindy or Messier would put up with this shit!!

              • Rangers Rock says:

                What made Adam Graves a HOF 94? Or 61 Points? ?

              • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

                Adam Graves is not a HOFer. He had his number retired because of his contribution to the 1994 Cup team. Just like Mike Richter.

              • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

                Silly argument. Keenan failed to win it all before coming to NY despite having outstanding teams. And as mentioned the other day, he was pitiful as coach in the years following his win. But in that one year, he had Messier and Leetch, two of the very best ever to play their respective positions. And a team of all-stars and SC Champs. All bought for him in a system that allowed the Rangers to stack the team. And still, in his deranged state at the end, he almost blew it all up.

                You are deluding yourself. Today’s team couldn’t hold a candle talent wise to that incredible team. He would be a trainwreck choice today, which is why he’s out of the league.

                And once again, you still can’t name even ONE great player that we supposedly have. The only HOF we will have is the goalie, and you hate him for some bizarre reason.

        • Leatherneck says:

          That also applies to Leaky? If not you are a hypocrite

          • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

            Please explain. How am I a hypocrite and what is it that you are referring to as it pertains to our future HOF goaltender?

          • pavel_burrito says:

            You say Leaky, I say a hall of famer.
            But it’s much easier to hate.

          • Egelstein says:

            Hank has actually been decent so far. No, not amazing, but decent. For a guy who always seems to start slow as basically just part of his goalie DNA, his advanced metrics aren’t terrible by any means through his first 5 starts. His QS% is 60 (60 and up is good, 53 average, below 50 bad), GA%- is 94 (below 100 is above average), GPS is .8 (which is a counting stat of sorts, so 5 games won’t produce a big number…but above 0 is positive) and his GSAA is .61, with 0 being the league average. Again, not amazing…but certainly not a detriment.

            • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

              Exactly. But the Hank haters won’t be satisfied unless they can vilify him. I feel sorry for Hank. The only chance we have is if he literally saves the season pretty much on his own.

              • Leatherneck says:

                I don’t hate him….just don’t like how it is everyone else excpept him….and frankly he is part of the problem too

              • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

                Of course he’s part of the problem. When you are losing….EVERYONE is part of the problem. But the team in front of him has been far, far more culpable than he has been.

  5. sherrane says:

    The loser point has greatly inflated points in the standings. The last two years only 8 of the 30 teams (26.7%) finished with less than a point per game in each season. In 2014-2015 only 6 teams (20%) finished with less than a point per game, which was up from 5 teams (16.7%) in 2013-2014.

    With 7 games remaining in October, the Rangers may need to secure at least 10 points to hit your 3 point mark.

    • John B says:

      The loser point and OTL need to go away. A loss is a loss, whether it occurs in regulation, overtime, or the shootout it’s a loss and should not get its own special category. You win you get 2 points. You lose you get 0, very simple

      • Chris A says:

        Why shouldn’t you get a point for being tied after 60 minutes?

        3-2-1 is the way to go.

        3 points for a regulation win
        2 points for an OT/shootout win
        1 point for an OT/shootout loss

        Or the NHL could just bring back tie games and give a point each for a tie.

        • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

          I agree with John in that I hate the loser’s point. But I have a solution. I actually presented it to Bettman a few years back when i had a chance to meet him. He politely just smiled and moved on, but here’s my plan….

          2 points for a regulation win. 2 points for an OT win, but that win gets “counted less” (like ROW) in tie breakers. Again, no loser’s point awarded.

          1 point for a shootout win. The shootout isn’t hockey. It’s a gimmick. So shouldn’t be counted the same.

          What I like about this is that it will create a sense of urgency to win it in regulation.

  6. pas44 says:

    This is hard to digest, we’re 6 games into the season
    and talking about missing the playoffs.

    i wonder if blogs about other teams go through this as much as we do, the roster, all the players who should have and don’t get it done… the coaches…

    man, this stinks!

    • Dave says:

      This wasn’t a fun post to write. You can’t make the postseason in October, but you can certainly miss it.

      • pas44 says:

        I fell bad for us all, and my heart breaks for some of the players. Henrik sits at the top of this list.

  7. lv says:

    Fire AV or get a real 2nd line center. Buch 4th line – really? Seems like a desperate coach to me. Stepan loss is growing bigger missing his point totals, and loss of team chemistry.

    • Mintgecko says:

      Lol nobody misses Stepan so now get a hold of yourself, that name will never skate as a NYR ever again.. Besides he has bigger issues to attend to down in the desert, 0 goals to start the season as always and then to follow another none 20 goal season, yeah no thanks I’ll pass on that bud.

      • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

        He may be struggling in the desert, and maybe he continues to struggle on a bad team. But make no mistake, we were a better team with Stepan and right now, since Genius Jeff (who REALLY should be the focus of ire here and not the coach) failed to adequately replace what Step brought to the table, we’ve taken a significant hit as a team because of his departure. It had to happen because of the NMC, I get that. But to suggest that we are a better team without him is flat out false.

        • John B says:

          Because it can’t be both right?

          Yes the GM failed to adequately fill the Center position. Yes he relied upon two rookies to be the solution to his problem which was a poor strategy and he is to blame for that.

          Yes the coach has failed to adequately deploy and mask the weakness to the best of his ability in fact making it worse with constant juggling and no chance for players to be able to mesh with each other.

          But it can only be one or the other right?

          • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

            Man, you really get agitated easily dont you John? Calm down. Have a beer. Relax. 🙂

            I’m not saying the coach has no responsibility here. Of course he does. I suppose as long as you are willing to give AV some of the credit for his excellent record as Rangers coach leading up to this season, then it is more than fair to give him some of the blame this year. More than fair.

            I’ve always been more about the players and the GM then I am about the coach. If the talent isnt there, I don’t care who the coach is—it’s not going to end well.

            That being said, if they keep losing, in year 5 of his time in NY, sure, a firing may well be in order. Not at all suggesting otherwise.

        • Jerry says:

          E3
          I’ll partially agree with you. We are a better team with Stepan, THIS YEAR, but not one or two years down the road. Yep the NMC most definitely forced Jeff’s hand otherwise we’d be stuck with a declining high salaried player. But we have two young centers in the system now who really might turn into something.
          And I know you tout AV’s point production totals, but really Eddie what has that gotten us but a lower tiered draft picks.
          You are smart enough to know it takes two (or more) to make a trade, and just as you sing AV’s praises, I’ll say Jeff had a plan to acquire a third line center. It doesn’t look like that worked out, so all that proves is the guy’s not infallible. He is still a comparative novice GM, unlike AV who is a seasoned HC.
          You artfully dodge the fact that AV leaves the locker room to the players. By his own admission he’s a hands off coach. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, that ONLY works when you have strong player leadership.
          It’s the head coach’s job to light a fire under his player proverbial butts when they come out flat.
          This is AV’s system, AV’s players, so this is AV’s responsibility.
          Well coached teams will counter AV’s system because he has one dimensional players, crafted to play fast, fast and faster.
          Sorry but this pathetic showing is on AV.

    • John B says:

      As someone pointed out on another site:

      AV: we want Buch on the 4th line to spread out our scoring chances
      AV (after Buch puts up 0 points playing with the likes of Cracknell, Carey, Fast or DD) I’m scratching Buch because he wasn’t putting up points and seemed lost out there with his line mates.

  8. Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

    Dave is 100% correct here. If the Rangers don’t get this figured out and fast, this season is over almost before it really starts. Few teams come back that far back in October. I always heard the Thanksgiving Theory, which is if you are not a playoff team by the time you are getting ready to carve the turkey, then you are the turkey that’s being carved—translation…likely no playoffs.

    As Yogi once said, it’s getting late early here.

    • pas44 says:

      I said it days ago, if we slide too this coming Friday without a win the breaks will be pumped & AV will be dumped.

      I am not saying its the right move, but you can’t lose any players at this point so AV is roadkill unless the team does something about it.

      The bus has to go forward, something must change or our winters’ will be harsh, bitter, and without any Christmas Joy! OR Holiday Spirit, whichever way you say it… Theres not enough Rum, to give us good cheers, to wash away the tears coming if this season steers the way it has begun.

      LGR!!!

  9. pas44 says:

    I saw maple leafs’ jerseys being thrown from the stands on to the ice 2 years ago. Now the whole city dons a blue leaf and its full speed ahead.

    LGR!

    I can not say what needs to happen to this Rangers club to turn it around, but I know there are more then a few steps that need to be looked at to do so.

    Jobu! It’s time to open the Rum!!!!

    My name is Pas, and I am a Rangerholic!

  10. Mikeyyy says:

    It’s spaghetti on the wall at this point.

    Av blew out his youth. Finding his vets couldn’t show the way now we juggle lines. It reeks of desperation.