Defensive struggles overshadow Rangers offensive abilities

November 17, 2017, by
pavel buchnevich chris kreider

Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac/AP

The Rangers are a weird team. From the players to the coaches to the GM, they are both great and terrible at the same time. The good news it that we can begin to quantify things this year, as 20 games is usually when we can begin seeing what the Rangers truly are, where they will improve, and where they might be over achieving.

Total Rank
GF 35 13
GA 42 28
SH% 7.76% 16
SV% 90.81% 27

*-All stats are at even strength.

Let’s get the easy stuff out of the way. Based on just raw goal totals, the Rangers a horrendous defensively and league average offensively, at least at even strength. However just looking at goals for and against doesn’t tell the whole story.

The Rangers are shooting just 7.76%, down from their last few seasons of close to 9%. So their even strength goal total will go up eventually. Their SV% should go up a few percentage points as well. Keeping both of these in mind, we should see the Rangers improve. This also really illustrates how much the powerplay has carried this team.

Total Rank
CF/60 54.31 22
CA/60 58.66 23
CF% 48.08% 22
xGF/60 2.71 6
xGA/60 2.8 30
xGF% 49.25% 19

This allows us to dive a little deeper. The Rangers have not been a good possession team for quite some time. They don’t rely on quantity of shots, they rely on getting in close and getting passes across the slot line to create goals. This isn’t a surprise anymore. It’s a style of play that leaves them ranking low in CF/60, but usually higher in xGF/60 and SH%.

Which brings us to the xGF numbers. The Rangers are a top offensive team in the league. They generate quality chance after quality chance. Couple that with a SH% that will surely rise back to around 8.5%, and you have a team that will continue to score. If they ever round out that center depth, they could become even more dangerous.

The one thing that seems to be eluding the Rangers is team defense. I covered this extensively a little while ago, and I won’t rehash it here, but the summary is that the players have changed, the assistant coaches have changed, and that leaves the system as the only constant. There’s only so much the team can do when their coach won’t adjust.

But I digress.

If the team defense –and yes, it’s team defense, not just the six guys playing on the blue line since the entire team has been bad– ever gets figured out, then the Rangers could be a force to be reckoned with. That’s a big IF, though.

It’s not all bad for the Blueshirts. They are simply a one-dimensional team at the moment. Their offense has the ability to be elite. However their strengths are being overshadowed by their awful team defense. Usually we ask Henrik Lundqvist to carry the team to the playoffs, but even he has had to compensate for poor defense, and it’s showed in his play. Can the offense carry this team? Maybe, but through 19 games, it doesn’t look like it.

"Defensive struggles overshadow Rangers offensive abilities", 5 out of 5 based on 2 ratings.
Categories : Analysis


  1. Craig says:

    Some great and informative observations as usual Dave, elite team on offense? Not to sure about that one. Usually, they do out-shoot the opponents but many times, can’t finish the play to score because they are limited with highly skilled forwards..
    When they play a tighter back checking game, that is when they are at their best and they can win the lower scoring games. Back checking I believe, is the key to better defense and winning

  2. 1994 fan says:

    Excellent post! Good to see a blog that brings FACTS to the avaerage fan versus stupid uninformed opinions or poor attempts at humour.

    Thank you.

  3. Uptown Girl says:

    Thanks Dave. Still think we need more offense from the bottom 6 and unsure it is just a center that will make the difference.

    On the defense, unless Staal or Holden gets hurt, we will not see any great changes. Maybe Smith will help fortify the ranks.

  4. avsucks says:

    Sure its the players who are responsible for there play on defense. But we have a coach who cant make adjustments during a game. And who never adjusts and does the same things over and over. burn me if you want, until we get a new coach
    dont expect anything to change.

  5. Richter1994 says:

    Great stuff Dave. Very well done.

    The bottom line is that the Rangers are not a very talented team outside of the goalie. There’s no elite player on the roster, though Zib could be and maybe Buch as well at some point. But not now.

    It’s no coincidence that their 5 on 5 scoring sucks. Too many shots into the goalies’ bread baskets. Shooting is a SKILL also, meaning picking spots where the goalie cannot cover.

    Tarasenko should have been that elite sniper they need. #grit

  6. Reenavipul says:

    I know it’s tough to do, but all these stats would have better clarity when teams outside of the playoffs were thrown out. They can be influenced by piling on crap teams. I know it’s a smaller data set, but I would think it be a better predictor.

  7. Arisrules says:

    I’ve been saying this for a while, the defense has been leaking high quality chances by the boatload, and needs to be resolved. yet the focus is on adding a bottom six center! Hayes/Zib is a very good 1/2 combo. Desharnais is fine and Boo is actually decent at the 4C.

    The problem is our defensive group as well as the team defense as Dave mentions. It’s a combination of systems, but also a lot of individual players under performing. Very disappointing as we all thought this group would drive the team.

    To me it just yells that AV needs to be fired and that Ruff is out of his depth.

  8. beforeNow says:

    AV has hamstrung this group. He has not put them in the best situation during games. He has under played Buchevich while over playing other less deserving players. Tony D should not be in the minors wasting away he should be up with the club. while Stahl or Holden should be sent down. secondly Chytl should also be up here and Desharnais or Booo down in Hartford.