Archive for Stats To Chew On
We’ve discussed the Rangers’ problems on defense ad nauseam, but the decline in production amongst the forwards is a factor in the team’s struggles as well.
Despite ranking fourth in the league in offense just past the halfway mark, the team is mainly riding one of the NHL’s top scoring defenses, a suddenly powerful power play and some lucky shooting by a few key individuals. The Blueshirts have a lofty goal total, but in fact the team’s forwards are nearly all having down years in production.
Here’s a look at the returning forwards’ scoring stats from last year compared to their current pace: Read More→
Last week I hypothesized about how the Rangers could make up for the 38 goals they lost when Carl Hagelin and Martin St. Louis departed and determined that there were plenty of reasons for optimism including Keith Yandle’s potential impact on the power play and improved production from young forwards. Then I began wondering about how having different luck could change things.
Luck has become a buzzword since the emergence of the #fancystats movement, with many theorizing that a team and player’s goal scoring totals could fluctuate wildly due as much to dumb luck as anything else. PDO is the most commonly used new stat to evaluate overall luck, but since the Rangers still have Henrik Lundqvist in goal, I’m not too worried about their luck changing on that side of the puck.
The Rangers went on a bizarre tear in March in which they scored on seven of 41 shorthanded situations, yet managed just five goals in 45 of their own power play opportunities. Obviously that was just a weird anomaly, but it made me realize that the traditional ways of measuring special teams – power play and penalty kill percentages – might not be the best way to assess their impact on winning and losing.
We all know what a huge impact special teams have on individual hockey games, but noting what rate a team’s power play has scored at and how often a penalty kill has surrendered goals over the course of a long season seems kind of silly. The percentage stats put way too much stock on what happened in October, which has no bearing on the present. Plus, those percentage stats don’t factor in shorthanded goals for and against, and we just saw how crucial those were to the Rangers’ success.
Power plays are constantly affected by the same factors that influence many other stats – hot streaks, injuries and dumb luck. Even the worst power play in the league can get red-hot for stretches, while a unit featuring five All-Stars can suffer a lengthy drought. The same goes for PK units. Read More→
A little over a week ago, one of my go-to publications, InGoal Magazine, released an interesting article, entitled GSAA: An Essential Statistic for Evaluating Goaltenders, touting a new advanced metric for analyzing goaltending, called GSAA (Goals Saved Above Average). The author, Greg Balloch, does a nice job of breaking down the specific methodology that goes into determining how many goals a goaltender saves above the league-average. Here is Greg’s explanation of the mechanics from the article:
You take the league’s average save percentage and apply it to the amount of shots a particular goalie has faced. You get a number of goals that the average goalie in that league would have surrendered if they faced the same number of shots as the goaltender in question. That number gets compared to the number of goals surrendered by that goaltender, and a plus/minus is created. If a goalie is in the positive, that is how many goals they have saved compared to a league-average goalie. If they are in the negative, then it is safe to assume that they are performing worse than how a league-average goaltender would perform in the same situation.
– Only five players have more game-winning goals than Rick Nash (6).
– Only Alex Ovechkin is averaging more shots per game than Rick Nash (4.1).
– Only nine players have more points against their own division than Mats Zuccarello’s 21.
– Only eight players have more penalty minutes on home ice than Chris Kreider (53). Only Dallas’s Antoine Roussel has actually committed more penalties on home ice than Kreider (20).
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.
Though the skills competition isn’t really a fair way to determine the winner of a hockey game, success in the shootout has granted some teams entry to the postseason and – as Rangers fans know all too well – denied others.
Thanks in large part to Henrik Lundqvist’s heroics, New York has traditionally been a solid shootout club. The Blueshirts went 4-4 in the event last season and are 53-40 overall since its inception in 2005.
Last season, coach John Tortorella relied heavily on Ryan Callahan and Rick Nash in the shootout and it’s likely that new coach Alain Vigneault will do the same. It also seems like a no-brainer that Vigneault will deploy one of New York’s most deadly shootout weapons – Mats Zuccarello – now that the Norwegian is back for a full season. So who could Vigneault turn to in Callahan’s absence to start the season and in the event of future slumps/injuries? Let’s take a look at how New York’s forwards did in the skills competition last year: Read More→
– After the trade deadline Derick Brassard had five goals in six assists while Marian Gaborik had three goals and five assists.
– The Rangers went 9-3-1 following the trade deadline.
– Before the trade deadline the Rangers averaged 2.4 goals per game. After it, they averaged 3.6.
– Check out this chart of where playoff teams ranked in shot differential this season. (Via @NHL_Stats) Read More→
– Since the trade deadline, Derick Brassard has three goals in six assists in 10 games and Marian Gaborik has three goals and four assists in 10 games.
– The Rangers are 7-2-1 since the trade deadline. (Via @Herman_NYRBlog)
– The Rangers are 8-36 (22.2%) on the power play since the trade deadline and were converting at a 14.3% rate before it.
– Brad Richards has four goals and three assists in his last three games. Richards notched his first career hat trick in his 896th game on Friday. He’d previously had 22 two-goal games. (Via @SteveZipay)
– Richards’ burst gives him 10 goals and 20 assists in 43 games, which is a 57-point pace (19 goals, 38 assists) over an 82-game season. Read More→
– New York has won 11 of its last 12 games against the Flyers dating back to March 6, 2011. The Rangers have outscored the Flyers 46-20 during that timeframe.
– The Rangers are 14-3-3 in their last 20 games against the Islanders.
– New York is 19-for-20 on the penalty kill over its last seven games. The Rangers are 14-4-2 when they don’t allow a power play goal this season.
– Henrik Lundqvist is now tied with Eddie Giacomin for most career shutouts by a Ranger goalie with 50. Read More→