You know your team’s powerplay sucks when you can barely find clips of it in 31 games worth of highlights on the internet. I spent hours on the interweb for this post trying to find some highlights of decent powerplay scoring chances or big saves from opposing goalies. Unfortunately, they are few and far between. I guess that is the state of the Rangers man-advantage right now, not exactly YouTube worthy.
To date, the Rangers are clicking at 15.7%, which is good for 21st in the league. Unlike the last, I don’t know 15 years, the Rangers actually have some decent personnel to work with. You’d figure with the career powerplay points between Rick Nash (203), Martin St. Louis (311), and Dan Boyle (283), we’d be able to muster up at least a 20% success rate.
Yet this season feels different, not only in personnel, but in execution. We’re no longer short right-handed shots. We’re no longer reliant on dump and chase hockey to gain our entries. We should be better at this, but for some reason(s) we’re stuck in mediocrity — again.
Here are a few things AV and Arnie need to fix.
1) Too much puck possession
In the old days, before Corsi or Fenwick stats, possessing the puck actually meant holding on to it rather than ramping up shot attempts. If there’s one thing I’ve noticed with this year’s power play it’s that the Rangers hold onto the puck too much. They need to ditch their old puck possession ways and embrace this new definition of puck possession (shots!).
If you look at the top teams in the league in PP conversion, none of them are in the bottom third of the league in PP shots. The Rangers are ranked 20th. It’s not rocket science. You have to shoot to score.
2) We’re too predictable
If you flip through the heat maps (courtesy of sporting charts.com) of where successful teams score goals on the power play, they’re usually not confined to one area. I grabbed the Penguins and TBL’s scoring locations (since they also run variations of the 1-3-1) and compared them to NYR.
You can see the differences pretty clearly. Those teams have scored from everywhere and it’s because they can put pucks on net from anywhere. This makes it much harder for opposing PKs to defend when you have to respect the fact that a team can score from just about anywhere.
The Rangers on the other hand like to run the same play over and over and over. See these clips below from the Red Wings game. Not only are these from the same shift, they are from the same sequence! Three straight attempts that were mirror images of each other. No bueno!
3) Change the point of attack
The Rangers aren’t the only team to run a 1-3-1 power play. Far from it. However, they seem to be the only team that quarterbacks it exclusively from the point, which defeats the purpose of its design.
The best part about the 1-3-1 is you can queue it up from multiple positions (points, either boards, or below the goal line using the slot forward). Changing the point of the attack will not only get us away from these predictable rightwing perimeter shots, but it will also force the PK to change their defensive structure which inevitably leads to blown coverages.
Whatever the coaches implement, hopefully the Rangers start to put a few away on the advantage soon. The easy part of our schedule is ending soon.
Everyone always wants to talk about whether or not teams should be dumping the puck vs. carrying or if teams are out- shooting (possessing) the opposition. In reality, these things are just outputs. They are the end result of how well a team is executing the process. For many teams, part of that process is their neutral zone systems.
The general consensus among 1-2-2 coaches like Alain Vigneault, is that the game is often won and lost in the neutral zone. Therefore, an extra effort is placed on designing tactics to win this part of the ice.
So what are those tactics?
Aside from forechecking strategies, which we have talked about a lot in the past, the two other fundamental systems employed in this area of the ice are neutral zone counters and regroups.
Three hockey clubs in 47 years. The 2009 Penguins. The 1984 Oilers. The 1968 Canadiens. They are the only three hockey clubs in the Post-Original Six expansion era to win the Stanley Cup the year after they challenged for it and lost. Not exactly favorable odds.
Those three clubs weren’t exactly one hit wonders either. The Canadiens of that era helped brand their organization for a long time as the Yankees of the NHL. The Oilers of the 80s were the last of a dying breed in pro sports — a dynasty. Though they never lived up to their potential, the Crosby-led Penguins were at least expected to challenge for the Cup a few more times following their 2009 victory. They didn’t and now Bylsma and Shero are unemployed.
So will the Rangers defy history and do the unthinkable?
For several years now we have been nominating GMs around the league as the “worst GM in the NHL award”. Past nominees include Scott Howson, Pierre Gauthier, Greg Sherman, Paul Holmgren, and Darcy Regier to name a few. By the way, all have been fired or have lost their responsibilities. In other words, we may be on to something here.
Here’s how it works. We nominate the GMs (based on their risky trades, unspectacular drafts or financially unsound signings). You vote the winner. Got it? Good.
Here’s 2014 nominees:
In case you missed the gossip pages last week, Henrik Lundqvist is selling his Hell’s Kitchen apartment. The place is a 2,035 square foot penthouse duplex with 2 bedrooms and 2.5 bath, which will run you about $6.5 million. Not bad.
For more pics, scope it out below.
For the first time since, I don’t know the 90s, the Rangers had pretty stable line combinations at the forward position. While most of us figured there would be more consistency with this new regime, I don’t think anyone expected to see the lines stay together as often as they did for as long as they did.
Even if you look back at AV’s tenure in Vancouver, he rarely kept the lines together as consistently as he did last season. Obviously, this had a lot to do with depth. With the departure of many key players at several different forward positions, you wonder what kind of consistency we’ll see during 2014-15 season.
Today, we take an early look at what the Rangers potential line combinations could be come October.
I was going to post a picture of your average Rangers fan, but I figured Margot Robbie would yield more pageviews. Yes, you’re all suckers.
Other than the fact that she’s hot, I think her reaction is probably synonymous with how most of this fan base reacted to the org’s first week of free agency. Mass panic!
It’s amazing how everyone always derides the Rangers organization for throwing Jim Dolan’s money around this time of the year, yet another summer of keeping his wallet in their pockets and everyone acts like it’s the end of the world. Life of a sports fan I suppose.
Me? I am not worried. I’ll even go out on a limb and say that I actually like the moves our organization made this past week. There’s still work to be done for sure. I mean we are three months away from opening night. But so far, we’re heading down the right path.
I think most of this fan base understood that Richards needed to be bought out. It was certainly something I pushed for last summer and I fully support the move. However, the obvious downside to this decision is now we have a major hole on our roster that needs to be filled.
Assuming the Rangers want to keep Stepan as a 1 or 2c and Brassard as a 2 or 3c, finding another secondary center appears to be the route we’re going to take. Unfortunately, there isn’t a whole lot available. At least no one that I’d consider an ideal candidate.
Here are the few options that will be available this summer and what they would likely cost us should we chose to pursue them.
Back by popular demand, we’ve decided to kick start our annual player, coaching, and management report cards. As always, these grades aren’t just based on stats, but also the execution of each personnel or player’s respective role within the organization. Obviously there’s some subjectivity here, but that’s what makes this interesting and conversational.
Before I get started on AV and company, let me first say that grading coaching specifically is not easy. Many of the greatest coaches in this game have been fired multiple times over, and it’s never because they lost their ability to do what they do. More often than not, those decisions typically come down to politics.
So how does one evaluate a coaching staff?
Do the math. Five goals in thirty eight playoff games (or 0.13 goals per game) vs. 336 goals in 783 regular season games (or 0.43 goals per game). If anyone wanted to make a case that Nash wasn’t a playoff performer or that he’s a choke artist, the numbers are there for the taking.
But making such claims are easy. The hard part is trying to figure out why this isn’t working. The even more difficult task is prescribing a solution.
Look, I’m not an expert. I have no magic potion, but I think I at least have a theory as to why Rick Nash’s offense has sank to Brandon Dubinsky levels of erraticism. And the only way to right the ship is to make an adjustment.
Scope this out.