Nov
02

One Month In, It’s Not All Doom and Gloom

November 2, 2017, by

There’s no other way to put it: the Rangers are off to a terrible start this season.  But one month does not a season make.  Despite an overarching feeling of doom and gloom, the Rangers managed to stay within the magic number of 3 points of the last playoff spot when October ended.  There are still 69 (nice) games to go, and the task at hand for the Rangers is to have a good November to get themselves properly into the playoff picture.

Of course, there are more reasons for concern than hope.  Two days ago, Alain Vigneault was said to be coaching for his job.  Does that change going into tonight’s game against a good Tampa Bay team, just because the Rangers beat Vegas on Tuesday?  What about the highly public appearance of the Rangers’ top brass at the Montreal vs. Ottawa game earlier in the week?  Clearly, this is not a settled situation, and one wonders how this is all affecting the performance of the team in each game.

That said, it’s the job of professional athletes and coaches to deal with those external factors and not let them affect performance.  It’s a lot to ask, but to use a horrible cliché, the Rangers still control their own destiny this season.  And amazingly, there are some reasons to be optimistic.

Some Stats

While the Rangers’ possession deficiencies are well-documented (and at this point, expected), they still possess a potent attack.  As Carolyn Wilke (@Classlicity) posted yesterday and Dave commented on, the Rangers are slowly regressing to the mean after playing poorly and falling victim to some bad shooting luck.

The Rangers are creating plenty of scoring opportunities, and their Expected Goals metric (19th in the NHL at 5v5 14th in all situations),  suggests that they should actually be around .500 in terms of their record (probably 3 points better than they are right now).

The Suddenly Average Metropolitan Division(?)

Look at the Metro standings.  No seriously, look at them.

At the time of this writing, the Devils are in first place.  The Islanders (and their league-leading PDO) in third.  Pittsburgh (with a -14 goal difference!) and Philadelphia occupy the Wild Card spots, and the Washington Capitals have just 11 points through their first 12 games.  The early read on this division is that it’s currently wide open.

Couple that with an Atlantic Division that seems to be Tampa Bay then everyone else, and there’s potential for an Eastern Conference playoff race where multiple spots are decided during the season’s final week.

The Henrik Factor

Until further notice, Henrik Lundqvist remains an elite NHL goaltender.  Slow starts are not new to the King, and while he has underperformed so far this year, a lot of that has to do with the lack of competent defense in front of him.

Tuesday vs. Vegas perhaps gave us an inkling that Hank is starting to round into form.  He made several jaw-dropping saves, and essentially kept the Rangers in it so they could wake up for the third period and mount a comeback.  It was vintage Lundqvist, despite the four goals conceded.  If Lundqvist begins stringing those types of performances together, the Rangers are certainly capable of going on extended winning streaks (a bad 2015-2016 Rangers team started 16-3-2, you may recall).

While it’s been easy to focus on the negative, the season is just a month old.  Here’s hoping November is better than October.

"One Month In, It's Not All Doom and Gloom", 4 out of 5 based on 9 ratings.
Categories : Musings

42 comments

  1. Hatrick Swayze says:

    South Park reference?……… niiiiiiice

  2. Bloomer says:

    Lundqvist has one of the lowest save percentage in the NHL. During the elite Henk days he had the highest. This is not all because of poor defence, goalies afterall do need to stop the puck. That’s why they have the extra equipment.

    It wouldn’t surprise me to see the Rangers start a winning streak here. They had a horrendous beginning as AV did not his squad ready for the first puck drop of the season. I have watched almost every game so far this year and it looks to me like they all are sucking wind. Conditioning is huge in hockey.

    Tampa will be tough. They hustle and have many weapons. Henk will have to be vintage Lundqvist if the Rangers have any chance to beat them.

    • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

      I disagree completely on the conditioning element of your statement. Teams in poor physical shape don’t usually have the wherewithal to comeback late as the Rangers have done a lot this year. Their issue has been bad starts, not bad finishes. Bad starts is more about mental preparation, not physical.

  3. Andy says:

    All good points. Keep in mind we need to go 46-23 to hit 102 points which is probably what we will need to make the play offs.

    • jrrangersdad says:

      dude, whee did you get that number? 95 points will likely suffice

      • Mikeyyy says:

        Just look at last years totals. If you played in the Atlantic or pacific 95 would get you in. Last year we had 103 and got the last spot.

        • jrrangersdad says:

          If the Rangers had 95 points last year they were in. The ‘Common Core’ teach you a different method of deducing this answer?

          • Mikeyyy says:

            Too bad that’s not how it works.

            Top 4 from each division. Rangers were 4th. Islanders were 5th with 94 and eliminated.

            Also several NHL writers have already stated the overtime point has screwed up all the standings where 100 points is the closest to a guarantee to a playoff spot

            Don’t need common core for that just some googling. You should try it. Not because I care but I prefer to have dialogue with informed sources.

          • John B says:

            95 points would have put us in a tie to get into the playoffs only. The Regulation or Overtime Wins would have put us in the playoffs. Not 95pts.

            As it stands now, they have 69 games remaining as pointed out. Without factoring in Overtime losses, the Rangers would need to win outright 42 of them to hit 94 points. This team right now, is not capable of that.

            • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

              Has there ever been a team to MISS the playoffs with 100 points? Or even high 90s? The borderline threshold is about 95/96 points. Finish above that, and you’re in. Finish below that, and you still might be in depending on how the East stacks up. 100 points is a sign of a good season, not a borderline playoff season.

              John is right, just get to mid-90s and they will have a good chance. But are they capable? This month will tell us the tale.

  4. Kentric says:

    Lundquist hardly ever let in a softy. This season he’s let in quite a few. His play started to deteriorate last season and while he did have some solid stretches, I wouldn’t put too much faith in him carrying the team the way he has in the past. I think its a bit much to call him an “elite” goaltender at this stage of his career. I’d be happy if he played very good at a consistent level.

    • tanto says:

      He let in quite a few softies last year as well. At what point do we label this a “trend” and not a aberration?

    • Mikeyyy says:

      He always starts slow. Every season. He plays too deep in the net and drops his glove hand 2-3 inches.

      They would beat him on cross ice passes since he couldn’t cut the angle off being that deep. Or beat him high glove side

      He would then work with Allaire and come back standing about 1-2 feet further and would purposely hold his glove hand high and we would rattle wins off.

      That has always been his Achilles heel. Moving the shooter after he drops to his knees. Forcing him to butterfly slide. Or they rip it high on the glove.

      The other thing the rangers do is give the puck carrier a clear line of sight to the net. (I was always told to block the line). But we cover the pass options and let hank deal with the shooter. Movement is bad for hank. Always has been always will be. He’s not mobile. He likes up his angles well and has the reactions to make the saves but you get his feet moving and he loses his angling.

  5. Al Hirschen says:

    If the Rangers stay bad for say two more weeks would you go for a all out rebuild? Trading as many vet players as possible for picks and young players knowing that this would be the first time since the John Ferguson years of the Rangers doing a full rebuild . Also knowing the Knicks are going the same way ,MSG would be dark in the spring and Dolan would have to sign off on it

    • tanto says:

      Personally I would limit trades to Nash, Grabner, Holden and if at all possible Staal (Desharnais as well) —- at least those should be the target players we NEED to move, none of them really factor into our future and all of them could have some value (varying of course) from now to the trade deadline.

  6. Moose Klein says:

    HL has let in soft goals throughout his career in some critical playoff games. He seems to perform better with the yellow crown on his jersey at money time…not discounting all the greatness, but acknowledging that he never closed the deal for the Rangers. Many NHL goalies have historically avoided the crunch time miscue.
    Not Hank…
    He has never learned to handle the puck in all these years…he has become a rebound liability with a terrible defense corps…shots from the corners or behind the net have always gone in at critical moments and crushed the team…over his glove is an achilles palm…wish we still had Ranta…just my opinion

    • Leatherneck says:

      Amen

    • tanto says:

      Raanta isn’t any better (as I doubt Talbot is), that’s for sure. I have my issues with Hank (some of which you mentioned), but to a lesser degree.

    • Hatrick Swayze says:

      Has Raanta won a game all season?

      Talbot right now is 3-6-1 with a .904 sv% and 3..01 gaa. Yet no one here calls him Leaky.

      • Hatrick Swayze says:

        …sorry for the typo 3.10. Yeesh.

      • John B says:

        Its a simple equation really.

        If Henrik Lundqvist gets a shutout it equals he played “Meh”

        If Henrik Lundqvist lets in a goal it equals “he was outplayed/leaky” etc

    • John B says:

      You say this: “Many NHL goalies have historically avoided the crunch time miscue.”

      Facts disagree however:

      ” Brodeur played in 10 Game 7s. The first of his career, he made 17 stops in a victory over the Buffalo Sabres in 1993-94, but lost the next two before finally winning another in 1999-00. By the end of his career, he had a record of 6-4 in Game 7s and his stat line is impressive – .926 SP and 1.87 GAA –”

      “Roy would help the Colorado Avalanche rattle off four straight Game 7 victories, but he would finish his career with a 6-6 record in seventh games.
      His stat line is a bit more bloated than Lundqvist’s, however. His final Game 7 stat line* of 2.26 GAA and a .915 SP doesn’t look much like what you would expect of Roy, but it’s greatly inflated by the six goals on 16 shots he allowed in 26:28 of work against the Detroit Red Wings in Game 7 of the Western Conference final in 2001-02.”

      “yet even the ‘Dominator’ doesn’t boast a great record in seventh game….His final Game 7 stat line is 1-2, 1.55 GAA and a .946 SP”

      Hank you ask?
      “Lundqvist now has a career Game 7 record of 6-1 to go along with remarkable stats in those games. In Game 7s, Lundqvist’s goals-against average is 0.97 and save percentage is .962. That’s not to mention he has one shutout and has only allowed more than one goal against in a Game 7 once”

      Should be noted that the author is NOT a Rangers fan.
      thehockeynews.com/news/article/why-henrik-lundqvist-is-the-greatest-game-7-goaltender-in-history

      • Hatrick Swayze says:

        Thank you for this tidbid

      • Reenavipul says:

        Good to see you know the price of everything but the value of nothing.

      • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

        John-

        Don’t bring facts into this discussion about Lundqvist. All the Hank Haters will just ignore them anyway. It’s actually been all that “high level talent” around Hank that has carried him all these years, don’t you realize that? 🙂

    • Mancunian Candidate says:

      Hank has beaten Ovechkin 3 times in the playoffs, Crosby twice; he’s the only goalie in NYR history to ever win a series where his team had been down 3-1–and he’s done that twice; his alltime record in game 7s is an excellent 6 wins, 2 losses. He’s the only goalie to ever win six straight game 7s.

      The question I have for you is a simple one–what team are you watching? If the above stats don’t constitute “money goaltending”, perhaps you need to watch another sport, because you are not understanding hockey.

      • Bloomer says:

        Hockey is played in the now not the past. That is what you don’t understand.

        • Mancunian Candidate says:

          And you don’t understand what Moose was saying–he was saying that Hank hadn’t been a money goaltender for NYR. I refuted his point with stats from from Hank’s career. All of these events occurred in the past, not the present. As usual, your criticism missed the point that’s being discussed–because you’re more concerned with your continuous attempt to smear Lundqvist as a less-than-great player.

      • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

        Exactly MC, which is why he’s a shoe in for the HOF, a day that will make the Hank Haters scream—“what about Talbot and Raanta?”

  7. Leatherneck says:

    Give me Rasmus Dahlin sweepstakes over making the playoffs and exiting the 1st round or fighting for a playoff spot and not making it

  8. Stevem says:

    You said ’69’….

  9. Stevem says:

    I’m hearing Smith will be scratched, Dave Maloney gonna lace em up?

  10. pas44 says:

    Off Topic (Sorry)

    the other night against Vegas Zucc did not have the A on his sweater, has anyone heard anything about this?

    I find it odd.

    • Chris A says:

      The Rangers have more than three captains and can only designate three captains for any NHL game. The “A”s are in a rotation.

    • John B says:

      They’re trying a new lightweight invisible lettering in an attempt to justify the “C/A is weighing down ‘insert players name here” crowd.

  11. Chris F says:

    So, how bad are we going to get slaughtered tonight?

  12. Reenavipul says:

    PDO rebounded against AZ & Vegas, let’s bust out the Champale!!

  13. avsucks says:

    i am so frustrated with how this team has been run as a organization. If AV was on the skids last time they played, whats the difference about tonight? or any other night.