Your GVT/PVT leader (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
For those of you who have been here a while, you know that we like to go deeper into the #fancystats and analyze how the numbers complement what we see on the ice. Most of our analysis is focused on quality of competition, puck possession (Corsi/Fenwick), and zone starts. One stat that we are also fans of is GVT (Goals Versus Threshold) and PVT (Points Versus Threshold). You can read more on all of the stats we use here.
We haven’t spent much time, if any, talking about how the Rangers rank in GVT. There are a few reasons behind that. The first is we were victimized by small sample size in the early going. The second is that the Rangers got off to such a horrendous start that we needed to wait until the averages started balancing out before getting true value from the stat.
For those who don’t want to read a long post on GVT, it can be summarized as the amount of goals a player is worth over a replacement player (Aaron Johnson, Darroll Powe, or any other injury replacement). It is a bit like WAR in baseball. The only difference is that WAR measures wins, and GVT measures goals. That’s why I use PVT, using the commonly accepted rule that three goals is the equivalent of one point in the standings.
So where do the Rangers rank?
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A match made in Denver?
For the past month or so, there have been many reports that the Rangers have been scouting the Colorado Avalanche. We don’t play them for another month, so I think it’s safe to assume the Rangers aren’t pre-scouting and may be exploring trade opportunities.
If the latter is true and the Rangers are taking a hard look at Colorado’s roster, then it certainly begs the question — is there a fit? Looking over Colorado’s roster and contract situations, they’re flush at center, short on wings, and somewhere in the middle on defense.
We’re pretty set at wing. Neither Step, Richie, nor Brass are true #1 centers. A right-handed defender remains our biggest need overall. So there are a few trade possibilities worth exploring.
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This was literally the only picture I could find of Henrik handling a puck. I think this was ’06.
The request for this post came from reader Max Steuer. Keep those suggestions coming! If you have a post idea you’d like one of us to run with, make sure to reach out to your desired author via email or twitter.
Throughout Henrik Lundqvist’s stellar career to date, one of the common detractions from his game has always been his inability to play the puck effectively. The past couple years have highlighted this weakness in his game, as Marty Biron, and now, Cam Talbot have been effective and capable puck handlers. This skill has been somewhat anecdotal (though, I have always included it in my style analyses) throughout the evolution of goalie development.
It’s nearly impossible to quantify in any meaningful way, and was always viewed as a bonus when a goaltender was blessed with strong stick skills. After a quick Google search for the purposes of researching this post, this was all but confirmed. Many instructors and YouTube aficionados have drills and technique suggestions and the like, but no one out there seems to have a handle on how to quantify it.
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Courtesy of ExtraSkater
As the analysis of stats develops, one of the major attributes looked at is player usage. John Tortorella was a big proponent of starting his offensive players in the offensive zone, and his shutdown guys in the defensive zone. Alain Vigneault is no different.
To read the chart above: The X-axis represents zone starts and the percentage of starts each player has in the offensive zone. The lower the percentage, the more often a player starts his shifts in the defensive zone. It should be noted that the stat used here (O/D St%) omits neutral zone starts. The Y-axis represents quality of competition faced. The higher up on the Y axis, the tougher the competition faced.
The size of each bubble is ice time – the larger the size, the more ice time. The color represents Corsi (puck possession). Red represents a negative Corsi, blue a positive Corsi. The darker the shade, the more extreme. For example, Brian Boyle has a darker shade of red than Dominic Moore, so Boyle has a Corsi. Anton Stralman is a darker blue than John Moore, so Stralman has a better Corsi than Moore.
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Derek Stepan is one of several players that need to be better
The Rangers have struggled to score consistently all season. Successful teams get the bulk of their scoring from their top six forwards, but no Ranger forward has covered himself in glory this season. Before going on to look at the individual grades at the halfway mark consider this: Mats Zuccarello is leading this team in scoring – a team designed to win the Cup – and is 71st in scoring in the league at time of writing.
Offensively this team will live or die on Rick Nash’s production. As of Wednesday night, 156(!) players had scored more goals than Rick Nash (7 goals, 16 points in 24 games). While his injuries are unfortunate, the peripheral play, extended droughts, and lack of dominance from a player with Nash’s skill and size are a concern. Nash is making $7.8 million and is the team’s most gifted forward, but rarely has he come close to earning his salary or leading the Rangers offense. A team with limited skill need more from their sole elite forward, Nash needs a strong second half if the Rangers are going to have success.
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We feel the same way Hank (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)
Over the past few weeks, we’ve heard a lot about the Rangers and their compete level. The coach has said there is no compete level. We’ve said this team has no compete level. Your next door neighbor said this team has no compete level. It’s a fairly common phrase. The term, obviously, is used to describe how the Rangers just don’t seem willing to do what it takes to win. We’ve seen it on the ice in every aspect of the game: hitting, defense, backchecking, board work, cycling, moving to tough areas, generating offense, etc.
You know we here love our #fancystats, and compete level is something that we can use #fancystats to quantify. If you are unfamiliar with Fenwick, read our Metrics We Use page for a refresher. Thanks to ExtraSkater, we have a visual representation of how the Rangers compete (using Fenwick) when the score is close (+/- 2 goal differential). This shows us how the Rangers play when the score is close, and if they are able to meet the challenges presented while the game is close. The graph below shows the results, and they are not pretty.
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Scott Levy/Getty Images
Now that all the hemming and hawing over Henrik Lundqvist’s contract situation has been completed, Cam Talbot’s future has been an oft-discussed topic. Whatever you may think about the specific details of the contract, Hank is going to be manning the pipes at the Garden until 2020-2021.
This brings us back to Talbot. His emergence this season as a viable NHL goaltender have prompted quite a few fans to jump to conclusions about his long-term future in the Rangers organization and his potential trade value and contract status. Just to get the facts out of the way, Talbot is under contract for this season and next at a very reasonable $562,000 cap hit. As Dave pointed out in his fantastic analysis of Hank’s contract, the discount between Marty Biron’s salary and Talbot’s hedge quite a bit of the raise that Hank received in the context of overall goaltending cost.
After next season, because of his age, Talbot will be eligible for Unrestricted Free Agency. Generally speaking, when a player makes his NHL debut, there are usually several cost controlled years at the team’s disposal, either through the ELC or RFA status. Because goalies are more often than not, late bloomers, the Rangers don’t have this luxury with Talbot. Read more »
Len Redkoles/Getty Images
The request for this post came from reader Michael Noltemeyer. Thanks for reading Michael, and feel free to submit requests for posts on specific topics or questions for a mailbag at the author addresses on the right margin.
A couple years ago, I broke down the specific goaltending styles of both Henrik Lundqvist and Marty Biron. There wasn’t really much of a need for an update to this series, since the goaltending situation remained relatively stable. Now, with the retirement of “our Marty” and the emergence of rookie backup Cam Talbot, it’s time to break down the young man’s game.
During the pre-season, I wrote a piece introducing us to the player, his background and the main features of his game. Much has changed since then, however, so let’s get into it with some more detail. The previous format will still apply: analyzing the five categories of Stance, Crease movement/depth, Equipment, Puck-handling ability and Exploitable weaknesses. Here we go… Read more »
Photo: Christian Petersen/Getty Images
When the Rangers hired Alain Vigneault as the new head coach, one of the big things he brought with him was the tendency to distribute zone starts with extreme bias. It was something we saw with John Tortorella, but not to this extreme. The easiest way to see how AV is using his forwards and defensemen is using Rob Vollman’s Player Usage Charts.
The chart takes QoC and zone starts to graphically represent where each player falls in the four quadrants (Shutdown, Two-Way, Sheltered, Less Sheltered). Shutdown is in the upper right, Two-Way upper left, Sheltered bottom right, and Less Sheltered bottom left.
We use this information to see who AV leans on for offensive zone draws, defensive zone draws, against tough competition, or who is getting cupcake minutes. The only filter used is a minimum of four games played for the season, so it eliminates some of the temporary call ups.
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Eventually some of Derek Stepan’s shots will find the back of the net
Despite the abominations Rangers fans witnessed earlier this season against San Jose and Anaheim, there have been plenty of reasons to expect a turnaround in the team’s fortunes. An extremely difficult early-season road schedule, several injuries to key players and an expected adjustment period to a new coach have all contributed to the team’s struggles. All of those things issues seem to be slowly righting themselves and as a result New York has won two of its last three games. But there’s another simple reason the team’s 4-7-0 record isn’t indicative of its performance the rest of the way: luck.
Sure, it sounds silly to think that luck can play such a major role in a professional sport where athletes are paid millions of dollars to use their top-notch skills to eliminate such variables, but luck is indeed as much a factor in the NHL as it is in your beer league game, when sometimes your team has 25 scoring chances in a game and still can’t put one by the opposing goaltender.
And any way you look at it, the Rangers have had absolutely miserable luck this season all over the ice. Well, all except one player – Brad Richards – who, ironically, felt like the team’s unluckiest player a year ago.
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