Archive for Analysis

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One of the common discussions you’ll see here at BSB is the discussion about luck masking poor play, and poor luck masking good play. Generally speaking, teams that have a PDO (SV%+SH%) over 100, then the team is lucky. It’s a general rule, as skilled teams are generally over 100, especially teams with elite goaltending. There’s credence to the “create your own luck” argument, but abnormally high/low PDOs generally balance out.

That’s why xGF% is used to determine how well a team is actually playing. It takes the quality and quantity of shots taken/allowed and turns it into a stat that is usable. Generally speaking, a higher xGF% means you’re playing well. A team with a high xGF% and a poor record usually has some poor luck, and vice versa. It is rare to see a team that is both bad (xGF%) and unlucky (PDO), but the Rangers managed to do just that.

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jt miller


One of the major topics of the players still on the Rangers this season is how they are going to perform next season. There were a bunch of very high shooting percentages on the Rangers, and they’ve come into focus as August drones on. And for good reason, it helps us navigate whose season was for real, and who may be coming crashing to Earth.

Of course the big thing to remember here is that talent matters when it comes to shooting percentage. A bunch of folks automatically assume that a high shooting percentage will come down. And yes, most players will see some form of regression for abnormally high shooting success. But skill matters. Let’s keep that in mind.

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jt miller nick holden

AP Photo/Rick Scuteri

The below post was written by Rob Luker. Rob used to write for Blueshirt Banter, but retired for a while. He sent me this and I was more than happy to post it. You should be following him on Twitter here. He is a great follow with tons of good hockey insight.

When Larry Brooks pointed out that the Rangers are expected to try to trade Nick Holden in his Tuesday, July 25th column, this got me texting and chatting with friends. Back on May 9th, fresh off the series loss to Ottawa, I tweeted the following:

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nick holden

The performance of the Rangers’ defensive pairs has been a pain point for many this playoff season. Most Ranger fans agree that the Nick Holden/Marc Staal pair has been awful (I’ve written many words about them). That the Brendan Smith/Brady Skjei pair has been solid (and them). That Dan Girardi, while not exactly amazing, has had a better playoffs than anticipated. And Ryan McDonagh is awesome.

But is that really true?

The playoffs are a whole difference animal, where PDO has a huge impact on how we perceive performance. In the playoffs, which are essentially four mini seasons of seven games, you’re better off being lucky than good. Poor results overshadow great process. And great results overshadow poor process. There simply isn’t enough time for the numbers to correct themselves. It skews how we view success, and it’s completely expected.

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Categories : Analysis, Defense, Playoffs
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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, and I highly recommend you read it. Read More→

Categories : Analysis, Forwards
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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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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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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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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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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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