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Rangers approaching important stretch of the schedule

The Rangers have had a light schedule the past week and change or so. Now, they begin a stretch of six games in ten days leading up to Christmas. It starts with a west coast swing though Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary before heading back east for a home and home with lowly Carolina and finally finishing up against the Caps at the Garden. This stretch is going to be incredibly important, both in the standings and beginning to start to figure out how good this team actually is.

It’s been talked to death, but the beginning of this season was marred by significant injuries to multiple key players. A combination of injury fill-ins and guys playing out of their ideal roles have masked the talent level in relation to performance. Now, with guys starting to get healthy, we need to get a look at the defending Eastern Conference Champions for the first time, 25 games into the season. Read more »

Rethinking the shootout

Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

I had contemplated writing this post a few weeks ago when the Rangers dropped several shootouts in quick succession, but I decided to hold out for the sake of objectivity. I think after almost ten (crazy, right?) seasons of sampling the utility of the shootout, it’s time to examine whether or not it is still a viable method for determining the winners of NHL games.

When the shootout was implemented in the 2005-2006 season, I’ll be honest; I was sick of ties. They were irritating. We didn’t get any sense of closure and half the time you weren’t sure what the prevailing emotion was. Did your team play well enough to win? Were they lucky to grab a point? There was just no satisfaction to it. Running the risk of being tarred and feathered, I’ll admit: I was on board with the shootout.

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How hard is regression going to hit Cam Talbot?

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

There was a time last season that Henrik Lundqvist was playing so poorly, and Cam Talbot was playing so well, that a very small but very vocal segment of the fan base was calling for a change at the number one spot. Imagine that. Crazy, right? But, it happened. Small sample sizes can do wacky things to people’s perceptions. Talbot had a phenomenal 2013-2014 season, but has struggled so far (relatively speaking) in the new campaign.

Last year, Talbot ended the season with a 1.64 GAA and a .941 save percentage in 21 games played. If he had put up those numbers over a starter’s workload, he would have run away with the Vezina. We all knew (hopefully) that these flawed metrics, although nice to see from our backup, were not reflective of his true talent level. In fairness, they aren’t reflective of anyone’s true talent level.

In 4 games so far this season, Talbot’s GAA has ballooned to 3.48 and his save percentage has slid to .880. Neither of those numbers are particularly pretty. I’ve seen comments on the Twitters and other social media about how hard regression is hitting Talbot, which naturally begs the question: what is the mean he is regressing to?

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BSB live chat 10.31.14

Live Blog BSB Live Chat 10.31.14
 

Friday chat reminder

Happy Friday, BSB faithful!  We’ve had a long, between game layoff, but no shortage of Ranger-related news.  The imminent return of Derek Stepan, John Moore’s suspension, line combos, defensive pairs, the last time anyone has seen Cam Talbot alive…  Join me today for a chat on all these topics and more, starting at Noon today.  Don’t forget to drop by at 11:45am and fill up that queue.  See everyone in a few short hours!

Building a better goaltending statistic

Wikipedia.org

Wikipedia.org

Over the past few years, the debate has grown more intense about the validity and reliance on #fancystats. The concept of quantifying the game has been a theme we have run with around here, albeit with the conceit that there is no perfect, all-knowing stat that can be universally relied upon to demonstrate a player’s ability level.

Statistics trying to quantify human athletic performance are inherently limited. There are very human characteristics in play; such as intelligence, judgment, emotion, situational awareness, etc. It makes it difficult to measure performance as if they were vital signs. I think that to fully expect that level of quantification or to vilify the statistic for being unable to is missing the point.

Much like politics, I think the emergence of these statistics and the resistance to adoption has pushed the two positions out to the extremes. The old school hockey community has written them off or marginalized their effectiveness, citing “games are played on the ice, not on a spreadsheet”, or taking pot shots at the Maple Leafs for hiring Kyle Dubas for their Assistant GM position, and various stats writers to make up a new analytics department. Read more »

Thoughts following Thursday night’s shootout win

Al Bello/Getty Images

Al Bello/Getty Images

Since we often preach patience and the long-view around here, I find it very difficult to identify specific narrative topics when the season is only five games old.  Many of our observations will normalize or end up a blip on the big picture radar.  Most sample sizes are too small, trends too tenuous and in the case of the Rangers, too injury dependent.  Once Stepan and Boyle return, we will start to see the true colors of this team, but until then, I feel like some random thoughts are more appropriate than digging into too much data or player performance numbers. I’ll be curious to see if your thoughts are consistent with mine during this time of upheaval…

  • Is it wrong that I was excited just to see that second win so things didn’t spiral out of control like last October?
  • Man, Lee Stempniak has been great. We all were fully on-board with the signing when it happened, but he has gotten off to a much better start than we could have reasonably expected.
  • Ryan McDonagh played over 30 minutes last night. In October. Loco.
  • Rick Nash is a monster. I had a feeling that the post-concussion symptoms were holding him back last season. He was horribly snake bitten in the playoffs, but has broken out again in a big way to start this year. Goals aside, he had made strong moves to the net, utilizing his size and reach with great results. If he can stay healthy, he will be an absolute force this season.

Read more »

BSB live chat 10.10.14

Live Blog BSB Live Chat 10.10.14
 

Friday chat reminder

Join me this afternoon for the first live chat of the regular season!  Plenty to discuss after yesterday’s opening night victory; Rick Nash’s big night, Dan Boyle’s injury, MSL at center, systems, whatever.  We will get started at 1pm, but make sure to stop by at 12:45pm and fill up the queue.  See everyone in a couple hours!

BSB live chat

Live Blog BSB Live Chat 10.3.14