Photo: Dave Sandford/NHLI
I’m sure you’ve noticed this by now, but the New York Rangers stink on faceoffs. They are at 47.2% right now as a team. Of the players that have taken at least 50 faceoffs, only Derick Brassard (55.4%) and Dominic Moore (53.3%) are above 50%. Martin St. Louis (43.6%) and Kevin Hates (24.6%, ouch) bring up the rear for players that have taken 50 faceoffs. Derek Stepan isn’t a 50% faceoff guy, so his return won’t really help in that department.
But how much does this affect the on-ice product?
Statistical Sports Consulting printed a study on the effect of faceoffs on goals, and the results are pretty interesting. They first measured the faceoff differential to yield a goal differential, then measured the probability of winning a faceoff (Note: Not 50/50, there’s skill involved).
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Yesterday was a busy day for me. After participating in a breast cancer fundraiser with my Crossfit box called Barbells for Boobs, I assisted my girlfriend in preparing for a party she was hosting. This involved me cooking all day with her, and naturally, I forgot to DVR the game. It sounds like it was a bad game, not converting on early powerplays, not winning face offs, not stepping up in the neutral zone, minimal forecheck, no counter rush, no forcing turnovers, etc. Basically, the problems that plagued them in the three game losing streak.
Sorry for the lack of a goal breakdown, that’s my bad. Feel free to discuss the game here.
The Rangers are in Montreal tonight, looking to make it four wins in a row after dropping three straight. The Canadiens say they have moved on from their playoff defeat at the hands of the Rangers, but I’m sure there will be some guys looking for some form of revenge against infamous goalie-runner Chris Kreider. Henrik Lundqvist gets the start, after seemingly conquering his demons in that playoff run.
Under Michel Therrien, the Canadiens play a 1-2-2 forecheck, but do use a 2-1-2 style from time to time based on the score and puck location. Though this team prefers to want to play passive and clog up the neutral zone. Like the Rangers, Montreal’s defensive zone system is to overload when the puck is along the boards and man-on-man when the puck is down low.
What’s interesting is that Therrien has said in the past that they overload the boards because of their team size and speed (note: small and fast). On special teams, the Habs play your standard umbrella powerplay. On the penalty kill, they rotate between a diamond force and a box depending on puck location. They really look to pressure the opposition all over the ice when shorthanded.
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Through the first seven games of the season, the Rangers have tread water with a 4-3 record. Considering the injuries to Derek Stepan and Dan Boyle, that’s what most had hoped for. These are two significant injuries that compound the issue of significant roster turnover from last year. Those that have been with the club for a while need to be the anchors that hold the ship steady, and right now, the top three of Ryan McDonagh, Dan Girardi, and Marc Staal have been underwhelming.
The three of them combined have just five assists for the season. Defensive scoring is critical for successful teams, and while I don’t expect this to be an on-going problem throughout the year, it has been a problem nonetheless. While offense is an issue, the more alarming issue is the defensive meltdowns that led to three straight losses where the team allowed 17 goals. Evan Sporer at Blueshirt Banter wrote a good piece about shot quality, and how the Rangers defense was allowing quality shots. I’m not going to re-hash it here, but you should check it out, it’s a brilliant post.
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AP Photo/Frank Franklin II
Although the New York Rangers’ lines are in a state of flux due to injuries, we have seen enough games thus far to get a fair barometer on how Alain Vigneault will deploy his lines throughout the season. Earlier this month, prior to the start of the season, I took a guess at how AV would deploy his lines. The only thing that we knew for sure at that point was that the fourth line would get buried with defensive zone starts. That part at least remains true.
Before we get into it, we should note that J.T. Miller, Jesper Fast, Chris Mueller, and Ryan Malone haven’t really played enough for the zone start percentages to be a true barometer of where AV has been starting them. However, the latter three have spent most of their time on the fourth line, with Miller getting most of his time on the third line (one game on the fourth line). The numbers for these players may be skewed a bit.
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The Hartford Wolf Pack made two roster moves today, recalling goalie MacKenzie Skapski from the ECHL’s Greenville Road Warrios, and assigning
defenseman forward Chris McCarthy to the ECHL. Skapski, a first year pro out of the WHL, played one game with Greenville, posting a .906 SV% and 3.17 GAA. McCarthy , also a first year pro out of UVM, did not play in any of the first four games for the Pack.
Update: Hartford has released forward Richard Nejezchleb from his PTO. He will rejoin the Brandon Wheat Kings of the WHL for his over-age season.
Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images
The New York Rangers rallied for three unanswered goals to beat the New Jersey Devils in overtime, making it three straight wins for the Blueshirts. Trailing 3-1 in the third period, all on powerplay goals, the Rangers scored twice in the third and once in overtime to collect the two points against a Metropolitan Division rival. Henrik Lundqvist wasn’t at the top of his game, allowing the three powerplay goals, but the Rangers picked him up when he needed it.
Chris Mueller, who has been impressive, and Chris Kreider notched a goal and an assist each. Rick Nash scored the tying goal, and Kevin Klein became the first Rangers defenseman to score this season, collecting the overtime winner after a nice feed by Kreider. Oh, and the Rangers scored twice on the powerplay. How about that?
On to the goals:
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Mat Bodie notched the game winner for the Hartford Wolf Pack with 18 seconds remaining in the third, propelling the Pack to a 5-4 win over Worcester. Conor Allen, Ryan Bourque, Oscar Lindberg, and Danny Kristo –so basically 95% of the big prospect names– also scored for the Pack, who remain undefeated in regulation.
Below are the lines from the rest of the kids in action. Note that WHL games are late, and don’t finish when these post. The line for Keegan Iverson is through a point in the game.
- Wolf Pack (W 5-4):
- Jesper Fast: 0 G, 0 A, 0 PIM, -1
- J.T. Miller: 0 G, 1 A, 2 PIM, -1
- Mat Bodie: 1 G, 0 A, 0 PIM, +1
- Conor Allen: 1 G, 0 A, 0 PIM, Even
- Sam Noreau: 0 G, 0 A, 2 PIM, Even
- Dylan McIlrath: 0 G, 0 A, 0 PIM, -1
- Ryan Bourque: 1 G, 0 A, 4 PIM, -1
- Marek Hrivik: 0 G, 0 A, 0 PIM, -1
- Oscar Lindberg: 1 G, 0 A, 0 PIM, +1
- Danny Kristo: 1 G, 2 A, 0 PIM, +2
- Ryan Haggerty: 0 G, 2 A, 0 PIM, +1
- Keegan Iverson (Portland Winterhawks Up 2-1 in 2nd): 1 G, 0 A, 0 PIM, Even
After a three game losing streak, the Rangers have won two in a row, with one coming against a powerhouse team in the San Jose Sharks. Tonight, the suddenly-able-to-score New Jersey Devils are hosting our New York Rangers. The Devs have scored 17 goals in their first five games this year, but have allowed 16 goals. Cory Schneider is a rock in net, but the defense in front of him is suspect at best. Exploiting the defense will be the key to success tonight.
Pete DeBoer has the Devils playing a 1-2-2 forecheck which they’ll use aggressively in the offensive zone or passively in the neutral zone as a trap depending on game situation. In the defensive zone, Deboer employs a hybrid overload/zone defensive system depending on whether the puck is along the boards or at mid-ice. On special teams, the Devils employ an umbrella/1-3-1 power play. On the penalty kill, the Devs rotate between a box and a diamond depending on puck location and the setup of the opposition.
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