Dec
18

Weekly Preview: A Potpourri of Opponents

December 18, 2017, by

mats zuccarello

The Rangers have a lighter week than last, playing two home games and one on the “road”: road being in quotation marks as Newark is historically heavily Ranger-land. With a brief reprise from a hectic week, the Rangers don’t have to think about a back-to-back until the new year.

This week features an array of opponents from different divisions: one Pacific (ANA), one Metropolitan rival (NJD), and one Atlantic (TOR). As always, let’s take a look at the Metro and the Rangers playoff standings (as of Sunday afternoon):

Metro Standings 12/17/17

WC Standings 12/17/17

Obvious good news: the Rangers are in the playoffs. Obvious not-so-good news: there are still roughly three and a half months left of regular season hockey to play. Let’s take a peek at the matchups this week:

Tuesday, December 19 vs. Anaheim Ducks (14-11-8), 7:00pm

If we learned anything last week from the Kings, it’s that west coast teams: they’re just like us! They too get tired and jet lagged and don’t love to travel across the country to play. Case in point: the Ducks lost 3-2 on Saturday to the Capitals, allowing two goals in the third period before dropping the game in overtime. They’ll face the Devils tonight before coming to MSG tomorrow.

Some reasons for the Rangers to be optimistic about this matchup:

  1. Corey Perry, noted goal-scoring pest, is on the IR,
  2. The Ducks have the worst CF% in the league, checking in at 45.76%, and
  3. Their defense is really just not that good at all.

One thing to be wary of: the Ducks boast a high PDO, with save percentage north of 93% and shooting 8.6%. This isn’t sustainable, but may not crash and burn before tomorrow night’s matchup.

Thursday, December 21 at New Jersey Devils (18-9-5), 7:00pm

This will be the nail biter of the week for so many reasons. First off, it’s the Devils. Secondly, they have a better record than the Rangers. Third, this game actually counts.

I hate being *that gal* in December, but every single game, especially within the division, counts so much more than in other years. The Rangers are a flawed team that needs to make sure it benefits from an extraordinarily tight Division.

The Devils are shooting at over 9%, which is not sustainable. What likely is sustainable, however, is their .925% team save percentage. Cory Schneider is (unfortunately) really good, which means the Rangers need to do their best to get a big body in front of the net (PAGING CHRIS KREIDER) and hack, hack, hack.

The Rangers thus far in the season are 1-1 against the Devils.

Saturday, December 23 vs. Toronto Maple Leafs (20-13-1), 7:00pm

Mike Babcock’s third season at the helm with the Leafs is showing constant improvement, as he has since he began in 2015. Though slowed down the past few games due to the absence of Auston Matthews (“upper body,” but likely concussion-like symptoms), the team still has decent possession stats. Averaging near 50% CF% and an xGF% near 52%, the team is dangerous, even without their strongest weapon.

Goalie Fredrik Andersen is having a great year for himself, potentially due to better defense in front of him. He is helping his team by saving 90.22% of the high danger chances he faces. The Leafs are averaging 53% of the high danger chances per game in their favor.

Despite all we know of the Leafs, with Babcock navigating the bench, it makes sense to play as smart and efficiently as possible. The Leafs are not the same team without Matthews, but we cannot say a week away from the contest whether or not he will play.

Predictions:

It has come to my attention that I’m not too good at these, so take it with a grain of salt:

NYR 4 – ANA 1

NYR 3 – NJD 2 (OT)

NYR 1 – TOR 3

As always, please share your predictions in the comments.

"Weekly Preview: A Potpourri of Opponents", 3 out of 5 based on 4 ratings.
Categories : Preview

15 comments

  1. Richter1994 says:

    Meh, I’m done trying to predict what this team is going to do, lol.

    Just win baby!!

    • Egelstein says:

      I concur. They’ve gotten embarrassed by some bad teams this year, and also have embarrassed some good teams. Might as well just flip a coin at this point.

  2. SalMerc says:

    Every game is winnable, or if we come out flat and give up the initial goal, a rough road to travel. We need to play 60 minutes and get all four lines contributing.

    LGR

  3. Al Dugan says:

    I have two out of three also, but I dont know which one they will lose. I really dislike Toronto. So, I would like to have a win there. And I also dislike the Devils so I would like a win there too. I have no feelings about the Ducks. So, thats the one NYR will lose?

  4. JERRY MALEY says:

    Your predictions are…..I have no words…

  5. Jerry says:

    I have the game against the Ducks as the only win. Which is a really good thing as I have been horrible predicting game results, so we might take all three……

  6. RichS says:

    IF…..McDonagh continues to play like the old McDonagh , and Kreider continues his superb play, and if we get a 100% zib back we can win all three ………
    I would like to know what factors contributed to McDonaghs turn around???/
    Was he hurt, did he just need a rest….etc etc?????/
    Kreider has quietly been playing very well, even if he doesnt score or get an assist HOW many goals has he been instrumental in by screening the goalie, how important is he to Buchs game…………He is a dominant player when he is on and is on more and more these days……..
    His development makes me feel that eventually Miller and Vesey will join him and Buch on that level….

    • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

      Rich-

      I tend to be much more cautious and less effusive in dishing out praise to these guys than you, but yes, Kreider is playing better. But I’ve been burned too many times though hopping on board the Kreider Bandwagon. So I’ll keep my arms folded, remain skeptical but hopeful. Same for Miller, Hayes, etc. Good things happening but can they be counted on when it matters and can they be consistent?

      Vesey is a good player. I don’t see that high end skill in him though. He seems like a good role player type though.

      Your comments about McDonagh leave me scratching my head though. Of course he was hurt, right? He was out for a lengthy stretch with an abdominal injury. That was reported and confirmed. All we know for sure is he is better and can now play, but is he fully 100% healthy? Probably not. How effective can he be? We’ve seen mixed things, but mostly he’s been good…but not great. Where it goes from here…TBD.

      As for Mika, don’t go all “Captain Hyperbole” on us here! :). He’s just coming back from a concussion. It may take him a bit to find his way back to where he was before the injury, but just having him in the lineup should by itself make the Rangers better—even if he’s just 50-75% for awhile.

      • RichS says:

        3E
        Not many players are dominant consistently, unless your named-crosby-ovechkin-mcdavid etc….
        BUT what I like about kreider this year is that he is a threat to score more often, sets up his line mates with passes more often and is ALWAYS screening the goalie which many fans dont realize how important that is……..but I think the expectations are that unless he is dominating every game, scoring every shift he isnt playing well….
        Hayes….NOT playing up to his talent level IMHO!!!!!!
        Time will tell, and certainly your guess is as good as mine, regarding Vesey’s ”’peak”’…I am hoping he gets that ”’AHA”’ moment like Buch seems to have had this year, but I like his skills and effort and willingness to drive to the net….
        I have been saying McDonagh has not looked good since preseason…wasnt sure if he came to camp with an injury or he was trying to show everyone that he is still top dog on defense
        [ because of shatty signing], but his game was off….That was my thoughts before the abdominal injury……Last few games he has looked real good…..

        • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

          Very logical and reasonable points you make for the most part. I would disagree somewhat on Kreider, in that I don’t expect for him to be the upper-level caliber guys you mentioned. Not at all. But what is maddening about him is that he seemingly becomes invisible for lengthy stretches of games. Sometimes more than others. I dont expect him to dominate every shift or even every game, but frankly, at this point, we need more IF the goal is to win the Cup. You need players to have that “magical” season if you are going to do it. You can take the coach or whomever to task all you want, but at the end of the day, more is expected from this player, along with Miller and Hayes. If they can take that next step, then that can be the difference.

  7. Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

    Becky, don’t be too hard on yourself. Single game hockey predictions should be banned. I think we could be as succesful drawing straws or flipping a coin to determine who might win on any given night. 🙂

    Suffice it to say, another big week ahead. All three opponents will be tough tests. I can see all six points coming our way if everything clicks, or at a minimum 3 points if they are just so-so. Toronto probably looms as the toughest test on paper, but the Devils will be smarting from the pasting we gave them just nine days ago and Anaheim is no picnic.

    On more important matters, Dan Rosen from NHL.com reports from Rangers practice that Mika says he feels good. Both he and AV are saying he expects him to play tomorrow. They just have to wait for clearance from the doctors. Good sign.

    • Chris F says:

      Huzzah.

    • Egelstein says:

      I concur. There’s the popular phrase “Any given Sunday” when it applies to football…but really, I think that principle would more accurately apply to hockey and baseball where bad teams beat good teams fairly regularly in the regular season. Basketball has less parity now than at one point before the league was formatted to facilitate “Super Teams”, but I’d say football actually has the least parity of all four of the U.S. major sports right now, pound for pound. Difficult to nail down regular season outcomes in NHL and MLB especially, though.

      I sincerely hope that the duration of Mika’s absence was an extremely high level of caution, rather than him continuing to feel the effects and/or fail protocol.