Admin Note: Please welcome aboard Rob Luker (@RLuker12) to the staff. Rob has done a bunch of guest spots here and there, and now he’s joined on relatively full time. 

With the Rangers off until Thursday, there’s going to be plenty of analysis about the first three games of the 2018-19 season. This article will pile on top of all that, from the perspective of the numbers, and to do so I feel the need to make two prerequisite statements before we jump in:

  1. I only watched the Nashville game in full, while catching parts of the Buffalo/Carolina games (followed up by watching the condensed versions).
  2. Three games played in a year where the Rangers are not expected to make the playoffs means little, especially when the numbers most popularly analyzed do not begin to better predict team strength until the 20 or 30 games played

Now, with all that said, many of us were very much excited to see how the club would respond under David Quinn. Games one and two were encouraging, and if it had only been a two game week I think anyone leaning on the numbers would’ve been a little more positive than after game three. The first period of game three against Carolina was pretty even, but the Hurricanes started pouring on shots in the second and then firmly pulled away in the third. So how does the three game body of work look? With many teams only having 2 games played, we’re better off comparing the Rangers of this year to last for an idea of how the new roster is operating under Quinn.

The quick summary of this chart is that NYR is a very similar team to last year with one very bad goaltending performance. Going into the Carolina game, their CF% was around 47 with an improved CF/60 rate of around 49.5. The xGF% was hovering around 54.8 buoyed by an impressive game against Nashville, with the offense doing its usual thing and an xGA/60 below 2 (which would’ve been top 5 in the league last year). In the end, though, the Carolina game happened and we sit wondering if the first two games were a mirage or if the latter part of game three is more of the real New York Rangers for 2018-19.

Until more games are complete and the sample size becomes something real, opinions will be mixed as to what degree of bad NYR is. Personally, I wouldn’t mind seeing a 4-line forward team supported by a Defense that didn’t turn out to be absolutely horrid. This likely would not lead to a top three, or even potentially five, pick as many are hoping this rebuilding season turns out to be. The way a top pick like that would happen, however, is if the Carolina game became the norm rather than the exception as it is at this very early stage.

Before I highlight a few NYR skaters who are trending up and down, let’s just point out that Lundqvist had two good games that, if he keeps pace, would have him be a top ten goaltender in the league in terms of Goals Saved Above Average per 60 (via Sean Tierney)

To take a look at a few skaters, let’s start with a stacked bar chart with the players Corsi For % and Expected Goals % to see who stands out (sorted by 5v5 TOI, from left to right/most to least):

To note: Game Control isn’t an official stat: I’ve just nicknamed the adding of the two percentages together because in my mind if you’re succeeding in the shot and chance numbers, then you’re likely controlling the game while on the ice.

Trending Up

Brady Skjei: Skjei has had a great start to the season, playing top pair TOI competition for Ranger opponents while paired with Adam McQuaid. While I’m sure McQuaid being the stay-at-home type certainly helps Skjei mentally when taking risks, the relative numbers indicate thus far that he’s helping McQuaid’s results on the ice as well.

Jesper Fast: Fast was moved up in the lineup to play with Zibanejad and Kreider for game three, and while he’s struggling with the shot share battle right now, he’s going straight to the net when he enters the offensive zone. Only Jimmy Vesey, who has also had a nose for the net/chance thus far, has a higher individual Expected Goals For rate total thus far.

Brett Howden: The rookie has stepped into the fourth line center role seamlessly. One of three NYR skaters above 50% Corsi For (Skjei and Namestinkov are the others), he’s also creating chances with the second highest ixGF/60 rate on the team.

Trending Down

Brendan Smith: Having played the first two games with Shattenkirk and the last with DeAngelo, Smith did see plenty of ice time after his encouraging preseason. His underlying numbers thus far, however, haven’t been encouraging at all. I’d like to say Quinn is trying him in a shutdown role and it isn’t taking, however so far most of his TOI has been against middle or bottom six TOI forwards and bottom pair defense.

Cody McLeod: One game played, all negative numbers that put him towards the bottom of the forward roster. Please just play the kids that can make this a complete, four line forward team.

Neal Pionk/Marc Staal: If anyone knows what Pionk did to deserve his entry into the NHL to be hampered by a boat anchor by the name of Marc Staal, do let me know. Now he still firmly in the trending down category because of his results, with rates against that I would never advocate for, but until we see what he can do away from Staal I think many will continue to hold this opinion.

Trending … Even?

Kevin Shattenkirk: with a quiet opening week, many are saying Shattenkirk is a disappointment. While he did not stand out, he played normal minutes with Brendan Smith until being benched in game three after playing most of his limited minutes with Staal. My only curiosity is that his relative numbers bode well away from Smith in both shot share/corsi and expected goals, so this week could be interesting.

A footnote: Dave has been nice enough to offer me a somewhat regular spot here at Blue Seat Blogs, with a loose plan to write a numbers-based article bi-weekly along with any other topics that pop up. If anyone has any specific questions that you would like to see covered, even if it’s non-NYR related, please feel free to let me know!

"O-For-Three", 5 out of 5 based on 10 ratings.

38 thoughts on “O-For-Three

  • Oct 9, 2018 at 7:28 am

    It’s so early, and we are ready to throw everyone over board. I just don’t get it????????

    We have needs, defense is an issue, and yet we have to play Staal, and Mc Quaid because they don’t want to rush the kids. They won’t be here at the trade deadline, please get Marc to wave his NMC, he is killing us again……………Let’s also not forget this is a growing year, let the kids make their mistakes, it will work out long term!!!!!!

    • Oct 9, 2018 at 6:47 pm

      Staal doesn’t have a NMC,it turned into a limited NTC this year,I’d love to see them get rid of him but it’s going to be a tough sell.

  • Oct 9, 2018 at 7:38 am

    Smith and Staal need to step up or else. Forwards need a first line that looks like a top line. PP needs improvement. Game 4 should be interesting to watch.

    • Oct 9, 2018 at 12:11 pm

      Smith- Just a 3rd pair that everyone wishes could play in the top 4.

      Top line- That’s going to inquire a set of names who could consistently put up 50+ points. That’ll compare to more 2nd lines but hey it’s a start.

  • Oct 9, 2018 at 7:40 am

    I’ve been away so missed the games. Just saw the condensed versions of game 1 and 2 and listened to the first 2 periods of game 3. 0-3 not a good start and plenty of negatives. The things I do like though are the way they are going to the net. That’s an improvement. Also in the first 2 games we actually out shout our opponents, which is also an improvement from last year. (game 3 was a train wreck there but the first 2 games were not)Staal needs to sit a game or two. I agree he is hurting Pionk’s development. I thought ADA was good in game 3 and he even ended +1. He needs more ice time.

    I won’t be surprised if we get a top 5 pick this year. Although I expect us to lose a lot more 2-1 games than 8-5 games, a lot of teams have gotten better this past off season and we seem to have stayed about the same. Teams like Buffalo and Carolina are finally turning a corner and probably won’t be cellar dwellers this year. I know it’s early, but the rebuild has a way to go and another wave of sell off is most likely coming this year.

    • Oct 9, 2018 at 9:04 am

      I especially agree on your point about going to the net. I’ll just add that it’s a continuation from the last 10 years. From 2007 (initial year that shot attempts began to be posted publicly) to 2015 the Rangers ranked first, second, or third every year except once (2009-10, when they ranked 7th) in expected Goals For per 60 minutes. This means that their shots were consistently coming in from closer range than most teams.

      Since 2015, NYR has ranked 15th, 13th, and 8th in order. So even though last year obviously fell apart, the core NYR forward group was still getting the puck to the net among the leagues best in xGF/60.

  • Oct 9, 2018 at 7:48 am

    I’m waiting for more games, I feel the new system and players need time to Marinate…
    The team will change, grow, and could completely be different from the first 3 hours of NHL time.

    Also, I want to see how a couple of road trips effect the squad as well as chemistry possibilities too…

    But we need things to read, Welcome Rob, thank you for the points, lets hope all those trending downs pick up and …


    and best of luck to ROB!

  • Oct 9, 2018 at 8:01 am

    Welcome Rob, I look forward to reading your work in the future.

    It is rather early to use the stats, as you wisely point out. But no matter what, I will likely be saying the same thing all season: Let the young people play don’t sit them in the press box.

    • Oct 9, 2018 at 8:57 am

      Thanks – and I usually always agree with playing the kids.

  • Oct 9, 2018 at 8:19 am

    Rob, love your stuff, good to hear you’ll be writing regularly here. Agree with your whole article except your assessment of Brady Skjei. Skjei’s possession numbers might be ok, but he’s been positionally dreadful to start the season, constantly overpursuing the puck. To me he’s the guy who’s got the bad Vigneault system ingrained in his play, as it’s the only system he’s played as a pro. Hoping he settles down and starts using his brain more. He’s the dman I’m really worrying about: Staal/McQuaid/Smith are all garbage, Tony D seems to be active if not exactly reliable, and Pionk has been decent. Skjei has to play more calmly, he looks jittery with the puck, and really needs to improve his d zone positioning.

    • Oct 9, 2018 at 8:59 am

      Yeah, I could see how that’s the case in terms of over-pursuing/running around a bit. I guess my only point is that if Skjei actually kept putting up numbers like he has in the first three games, he’d have a monster year and would by far be the best NYR D-man, statistically speaking.

  • Oct 9, 2018 at 9:15 am

    Shattenkirk trending even? What? Skjei trending up?

    • Oct 9, 2018 at 9:53 am

      So the 8 thumbs down people must think Shattenkirk is good

      • Oct 9, 2018 at 11:23 am

        No it’s the 14 …. lol
        But we got a discount !

        • Oct 9, 2018 at 1:21 pm


      • Oct 9, 2018 at 11:53 am

        I would hope that some people realize Shattenkirk is comming off knee surgery and is going to need 10-15 games to shake the rust off…don’t think he’s been good so far but willing to wait before passing judgement

        • Oct 9, 2018 at 12:06 pm

          I hear where you are coming from but he sucked with the Caps and he sucked last year…I was hoping it was the knee injury that messed him up but I see him now and he has no D ability

      • Oct 9, 2018 at 12:29 pm

        Hey I have a special app that can breakup down the upvotes and downvotes. I just got done checking it out for you and guess what? 22 of those votes are coming from the same location. It’s not even half pass noon and there isn’t more than 6-7 people on here but yet everything has 10+ votes. Nobody is safe in this day and ageto be pulling that off, so don’t sweat about it, this person has 2-3 alias names.

        • Oct 9, 2018 at 12:49 pm

          He got the one thumbs up from me ?
          On to Shattypants, he doesn’t engage and again he’s Yandle all over , but we saved millions he left on the table for a discount ( cause no one else in reality wanted him )

          • Oct 9, 2018 at 1:20 pm

            Thanks King of clarity!

        • Oct 9, 2018 at 1:19 pm

          Theres no doubt about it Mint….Thanks buddy!

        • Oct 9, 2018 at 1:21 pm

          Its MC we all know it

          • Oct 9, 2018 at 1:27 pm


        • Oct 9, 2018 at 2:14 pm

          Wow Mint, with you and Town and Sieve on the case, this should be figured out in no time at all. Remember when you guys solved “the Case of the Missing A$$hat”? And you guys found it in the mirror? Where it was all along?

          • Oct 9, 2018 at 2:57 pm

            Did you like your comment all 3 times?

  • Oct 9, 2018 at 10:01 am

    Gotta say, I really don’t care about Ws and Ls right now. I’m excited to se what the kids can do. They’re not lighting the world on fire but Buchnevich, Chytil, Howden, and DeAngelo are making plays that are very exciting. I also love the fact that someone seems to always be at the front of the net. It will be painful to watch for a while, but the future of this franchise is trending up so I’ll definitely be watching!

  • Oct 9, 2018 at 10:58 am

    Too early for numbers. After 3 games you can depend on your eyes and numbers mislead. Shatty is no defensive whiz and Steal can’t handle the speed. Let’s not shoot McQuaid and Smith after 3 games. Except for Krieder, Fast, and Howden the forwards have been a little inconsistent but not horrible. Agree if you throw out the Carolina game we would be more confident and we played back to back and a quick turnaround. We were late and had little first touches. No legs made the difference.

  • Oct 9, 2018 at 12:13 pm

    It’s just 3 games, I’ll reserve final judgments for game 25+ … that said, Staal has been horrible … and Skjei was bad in the last game against Carolina. Shattenkirk has been “meh”, ADA was quite good in his ONE game … Pionk had to deal with Staal in Game 3, enough said … McQuaid at least brings a presence to the defense, but not much more … Smith’s body may be in better shape this year, but his head is lagging behind. Personally I would be happy if Quinn would just bench Staal for a few games and let the kids play. I can’t wait to see Hajek on this team.

    • Oct 9, 2018 at 12:21 pm

      Hajek, Lindgren, Crawley, Rykov all reasons for optimism for the near future

      • Oct 10, 2018 at 10:54 am

        Haha, not sure why this comment got down votes … you’re right.

  • Oct 9, 2018 at 12:33 pm

    Here are the McQuestions:

    Why McQuaid.

    Indeed, why McLeod?

    If they want someone who is a good brawler in the lineup, then ok, play one of them. But unless necessary, why play both? I’d like to see the young players playing.

    • Oct 9, 2018 at 5:25 pm

      McQuaid is enough, McLeod needs to go as he’s the easiest player on the team to replace and improve upon.

  • Oct 9, 2018 at 1:52 pm

    I got more thumbs down than people who are on this site….Thanks MC

    • Oct 9, 2018 at 2:00 pm

      I got a gazillion one time , same with leather …

      • Oct 9, 2018 at 2:04 pm

        hahaha I guess the Forum establishment does not like Ranger fans that tell the truth

        • Oct 9, 2018 at 2:36 pm

          Oh for certain don’t say anything about Hank , hence the name

  • Oct 9, 2018 at 3:42 pm

    Jeez. You guys are like 3rd graders sticking your tongues out at each other! How about some hockey talk???

    • Oct 9, 2018 at 4:24 pm

      Eh. I don’t use Facebook, so if anything this gives me comical insight as to what the Rangers page is like.

      Besides, every time I question if I’m doing ok in life I just have to check here and instantly feel better

Comments are closed.