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Archive for Analysis


Optimizing the Rangers Lineup

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It’s playoff time, and that means over-analyzing absolutely everything there is to analyze about hockey. Whether it’s a particular goal, a bad call, or the decision to play Nick Holden and Marc Staal in the twilight of a close game, it all deserves our intense scrutiny because well, we’re talking about a chance at a Stanley Cup here. One thing that’s especially crucial in the playoffs, and thus warranting our obsessive analysis, is chemistry.

A couple of weeks back the excellent Ryan Stimson put up a piece on just that. For those of you who don’t know, Stimson runs the Passing Project, which is an effort to track passes that take place during hockey games in order to better understand the little things that make a big difference over the course of a season. While the Passing Project doesn’t quite have every game tracked, they do have a substantial amount of work done already (almost 900 games) and Ryan’s work is worth your attention. The piece can be found over on hockey-graphs.com, and I highly recommend you read it. Read More→

Categories : Analysis, Forwards
Comments (39)

Before I begin, I’d just like to say thanks to the readers and my fellow BSB writers for the warm welcome.  Like the rest of the staff here, I’m just a devoted fan with thoughts about the team, and I appreciate the opportunity to share some of those thoughts with you.

My weekly post is going to follow a theme, where I highlight one reason for optimism, along with one cause for concern.  Let’s dive right in:

Reason for Optimism: the playoffs are (almost) here, and the Rangers are healthy.

After a long six-month season, the Rangers are back in the playoffs for the 11th time in the 12 seasons since the 2004-2005 lockout. This itself is remarkable, even in a league that allows more than half of its teams into the postseason, given the salary cap restrictions and the relative role of luck involved in getting there in the first place.  The one constant throughout those dozen years has been Henrik Lundqvist, who has returned to the Rangers after missing two and a half weeks with a hip injury.

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Categories : Analysis
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alain vigneault

The Rangers are solidly in a playoff spot, and barring a collapse of epic proportions, will qualify for the postseason. It’s been a much better season than most predicted, with a juggernaut offense and elite goaltending (minus the first two months of the year) carrying the team. One area for improvement that will drive any success in the playoffs –beyond the defense– is their performance on home ice.

Madison Square Garden has been a horror show for the Rangers this year. They’ve been wildly inconsistent, posting a barely .500 record at 19-14-2. Simply put, that won’t cut it in the playoffs. The only saving grace is that the Rangers are 24-8-0 on the road.

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Categories : Analysis
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henrik lundqvist

Growing up playing goalie, there were many different warm ups I went through. As a kid, I just strapped on the pads and went for it. As I got into more organized and competitive hockey, I started paying more attention to what I needed as I went through the pre-game warmups. At that point, I wanted my teammates to make sure they shot the puck at me.

It’s not an overly complicated concept. Get me used to the puck hitting me. Then get me moving laterally, still putting the pucks low so that I can get a feel for it. Sure, there was the one guy that always picked a corner. There was the other guy that was a jackass and thought it was funny to ring one off my mask. After the warmups, I had a feel for it before puck drop.

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Categories : Analysis
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AP Photo/Kathy Willens

One of the major concerns for the Rangers this season is that they are not a good puck possession team. It’s been a growing concern over the past few months, as the Rangers were getting pinned in their own end and not getting enough pressure at the other end. It’s why many were concerned that this year’s team was identical to last year’s.

While there are some explanations why the Rangers have had subpar numbers (injuries, leads, etc), they certainly are not excuses. However one major shining light is that the Rangers are getting high quality chances when taking their shots. The Rangers are the league leaders in average distance of shot both at even strength and on the powerplay.

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Categories : Analysis
Comments (19)

As process improves, wins are coming

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kevin hayes

AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

Until very recently, there had been a growing concern among the Rangers fan base that the team’s inability to win without scoring at least three goals. Their first win of that kind came in Winnipeg, by a score of 2-1. From that point one week ago, the Rangers have scored over three goals just once. That was Sunday against the Devils, a 5-0 shutout. The other three games they won 1-0 (Chicago), lost 2-1 (Chicago), and won 2-0 (Dallas). That’s three wins in four when scoring fewer than three goals.

Some point to offense drying up. Some point to goaltending stepping up. Some point to improved defense. In reality it’s all three. We all knew the offense would dry up. After all, the Rangers weren’t going to shoot 15% the rest of the year. It’s just not possible. But while we knew the offense would dry up to a degree, we also knew the goaltending –which hadn’t been as expected– was going to get better as well.

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Categories : Analysis
Comments (49)


In case you missed it, and if you’re reading this you didn’t, Antti Raanta has been the starting goalie for the past three games. He’s won all three games, with the last two via shutout. Alain Vigneault seems content with riding the hot hand, which means Henrik Lundqvist –who has “struggled” this season– is riding pine.

There is a very vocal minority that thinks the Rangers should be starting Raanta going forward, even if/when Hank regains his Hank-like form. It is unlikely that happens, as Lundqvist will likely return to his starting role soon, but it’s still a possibility that Raanta continues to play well and get more starts.

All of this leads to whether or not there is a goalie controversy in New York. But to answer the question, perhaps we should do some actual digging into how the Rangers play with each goalie in net.

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Categories : Analysis
Comments (76)
dan girardi

AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

We are 24 games into the season, and we’ve seen a Rangers team that has wowed us, depressed us and made us feel every feeling in between. No matter where you sit on the spectrum of the Rangers play, you are likely happy with the 16-7-1 start to the season. If not, then you are likely happy with the +29 goal differential thus far. If not, then well then I’m assuming you hate the coach.

We’ve seen enough of the Rangers that we can evaluate their performance and perhaps what’s to come for the rest of the season. Joe Fortunato did a wonderful job of reviewing if you should be worried about the club, something you should check out, and this is likely going to cover a lot of the same points. I had this post planned for today, so I’m going to write it anyway. Sue me Joe.

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Categories : Analysis
Comments (42)
Providing excellent value: Chris Kreider Photo: Al Bello/Getty Images

Photo: Al Bello/Getty Images

Successful teams need depth and the Rangers certainly have depth right now. What they also have is value for money and in a cap world when depth goes hand in hand with value for money you have yourself a winning record. Getting bang for your buck is something we’ve discussed ad nauseam on the Blog but it’s worth repeating.

Here’s a number that may surprise you. Only eight(!) teams have a smaller overall cap commitment than the Rangers this season – your deep pocketed Blueshirts check in with an overall $70,246,111 spend. When was the last time the Rangers were near the bottom of the league in overall spending? Leading the league in goals scored while having the 22nd overall cap hit is a great example of value for money in a hard cap league that forces General Managers to trade away talent to be financially compliant.

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Categories : Analysis
Comments (25)
derek stepan

Photo: AP

Don’t look now, but your New York Rangers are tops in the league in goal scoring (35) and tied for second in the league goal differential (+13). The Rangers have won games by simply outchancing, outshooting, and outscoring the opposition. The rebuilt forward group is deep, fast, skilled, and allows Alain Vigneault to run four lines capable of putting the puck in the net, seemingly at will.

This team has been incredibly fun to watch. It’s been a while since we’ve been able to say that about the Rangers, as they usually have been relying on Henrik Lundqvist to bail them out game after game. This year seems different, even if the outrageous scoring may not last.

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Categories : Analysis
Comments (57)