Archive for Musings
Just two questions this week in the mailbag. You can submit questions for mailbags via the form on the right.
Michael: A couple days ago someone asked what was the link between zone start percentage and Corsi. So i got all the data from War on ice for each individual player for this season plotted relative zone start percentage vs Corsi for and fit a line on the data. Nothing mind blowing but thought it would be interesting to share with you guys. As one might expect better o zone starts leads to better possession numbers.
It feels like the Rangers are on an NFL schedule lately. One game per week, nothing really doing in between the games. It’s a bit boring, and it honestly makes for a difficult week, since there’s not much to write about. The same old topics are the same old topics, so here are just some of my random thoughts before this game tonight.
- The goaltending duo of Henrik Lundqvist and Antti Raanta has been outstanding to start the season, but they won’t continue with a .960 SV% at even strength. Naturally this means more goals, but if the defense starts waking up a bit and limiting shots, then we might not see an overall difference in goals against. That’s a big if though.
- Speaking of the defense, a lot of folks are killing Alain Vigneault for putting Dan Girardi back with Ryan McDonagh against Alex Ovechkin. Over the past three seasons, Girardi’s done a solid job shutting him down, so it’s not crazy. Ovechkin’s style is to cut back to the middle and use his defenseman as a screen for a shot. He’s not someone who will burn you to the outside, which is what Girardi struggles with. On paper, it makes sense to at least try, even with Girardi’s regression this season.
- That said, Girardi is getting older and his effectiveness in the past may not translate to future success against Ovechkin. Won’t know until tonight, though.
Lazy narratives are everywhere. They exist prominently in all sports, but the ones in hockey are almost unbearable. Carolyn Wilke went on a great rant about lazy hockey narratives (beginning with this tweet, you should read it). The focus of the rant is around the statement, “He is tough to play against.” What exactly makes the player tough to play against? Board battles? Tough to get off the puck? A little more detail in that statement please. It’s lazy and doesn’t add value.
But there’s one thing that is generally ignored, and something I’m seeing a lot of lately. That is lazy narratives among “stats people.” These exist too. Hockey is a very situational and matchup dependent game. Some guys excel in one system that plays to their strengths while failing in another. Some guys play well against some slower opponents but not some faster players. This is one aspect of the stats analysis that is missing, and it’s because we may not have the tools to do so.
The Rangers have now past the ten game mark of the new season, and will be taking on the cellar-dwelling Toronto Maple Leafs tonight at Madison Square Garden in search of a 7-2-2 start. There has been much to analyze in the early going, so naturally I have some thoughts…
1. Mainstream media analysis, especially in the early goings of a season, is especially broad. Good starts, slow starts and unexpected performers litter the narrative landscape. Reading publications like The Hockey News or ESPN, the assumption is that the Canadiens are invincible and the Ducks and Blue Jackets are toast. You dig a little deeper into the individual teams and you find that each club has it own sources of consternation and optimism.
Chris usually gets to have all the fun with these musings posts, but my thoughts are all over the place with so many interesting developments in the first four games of the season. So here are some of my early impressions:
- It seems like entering each year now, there’s buzz about how the upcoming season will be the Rangers’ last real chance at the Cup and the window is rapidly closing. But that’s really a bunch of baloney. The end of this run could come, and it could come suddenly – but if it does, it will only because Henrik Lundqvist has finally fallen from his perch atop the mountain of NHL goalies. Four games into this season, that doesn’t look like it’s going to happen anytime soon. Lundqvist has responded to coach Alain Vigneault’s challenge to start the year better with a sparkling stretch of unbelievable saves. Lundqvist’s reflexes look faster than ever, and if he’s actually able to continue this hot streak for the first few weeks and months when Lundqvist usually struggles, then you might as well hand him the Vezina Trophy now.
- One of my biggest problems with trading Carl Hagelin was that I thought his speed was essential to the team’s identity. Bu this year’s version of the Blueshirts plays as frenetic as ever. There’s still speed to burn up and down the lineup and it has to be a nightmare to defend.
Over the weekend, Rangers Twitter was ablaze with fury as Alain Vigneault dressed Tanner Glass over Jesper Fast. “Why take out a kid who has proved he belongs for a veteran who shouldn’t be in the lineup?” everyone said. “We all knew Glass wouldn’t stay in the press box much longer,” said others. This was compounded when AV stated that he liked Glass on the fourth line, and would not change his forwards.
But then came the bomb: Dan Boyle will be sitting for Dylan McIlrath. Boyle –who hasn’t been as advertised since signing last summer– is “struggling” according to a few. To others, including myself, he’s unspectacular, but efficient. Any rage that wasn’t spent on Glass was now shifted at AV, not for dressing McIlrath, but for scratching Boyle. For some reason, people thought it would be Dan Girardi (yea, right) or Kevin Klein (not after his start).
Now everyone repeat after me.
Isn’t everyone in a much better mood now that hockey is back? It doesn’t hurt that the Rangers won their opener against the defending champs and rained on their obnoxious banner-raising ceremony. Don’t get me wrong, I have the utmost respect for the Blackhawks organization, but my god, that was a little much. The Blueshirts are back at it tonight against Columbus, so I figured I would share some thoughts on game day…
In the interest of keeping this in some semblance of order, I’m going to try and compartmentalize these bullets into ‘Hawks thoughts and then Blue Jackets thoughts.
Happy Friday, BSB’ers! The preseason is officially over and we are only five days away from the 2015-2016 opener in Chicago. There are still some cuts looming and possibly a roster move or two. Naturally, I have some thoughts…
1. The more I think about the concept, the more I like the idea of eight defenseman. The Rangers have a pretty diverse skill set amongst their backliners, so I think using some sort of rotation to keep certain guys (Boyle, Girardi) fresh and to take advantage of matchups is a good idea.
2. Kevin Klein is a difficult call for me. On one hand, he is overpriced for his place on this roster. I think he is a bargain for teams of lesser defensive depth, but he is a luxury for us. His presence makes for waiver exposure to cost-effective guys that are useful to the roster. Read More→
Four questions this week as the training camp battles heat up. As always, you can use the widget on the right to send all your questions to me, and I will answer them in a weekly mailbag post.
anon asks: Why do you think Kevin Hayes should stick to center? He can’t win a faceoff to save his life.
I’ve addressed this on Twitter a bunch of times, but I may as well address it here too. While faceoffs on special teams are important, even strength faceoffs don’t do much in terms of controlling the play. It’s what is done after the faceoff that matters. The Derek Stepan winner against Washington showed us that much, as Stepan didn’t win that draw. It was Jesper Fast that came in and poked the puck to Keith Yandle that set the whole play up. But I digress.
The point with Hayes is that of his 45 points last year, I believe 40 of them were either goals or primary assists. That’s 90% primary points for him. That’s what you want your centers to do. You want them to create offense, you don’t want them to be passengers. Hayes is very smart as well, as he consistently drives to the net, and he gets himself open to shoot. He’s a beast with the puck, and he’s pretty solid defensively too. Faceoffs are skill that can be improved upon. You can’t teach hockey IQ, and Hayes has that in droves.
Received one question this week. This is a unique question, since I think the sender was spam, but it asked a question that a few folks have asked in the comments. So, spammer, you get your question answered. Congrats, that’s a first here. As always, submit your questions for the mailbag via the widget on the right side of the page.
Columbus (Spam) asks: Why are forecasters picking the Rangers to finish second or third, behind the Islanders and Blue Jackets?
And now you see why I think this question was spam. Not many are picking the Isles or Blue Jackets to finish ahead of the Rangers. Most predictions I’ve seen have the Penguins and/or Capitals finishing ahead of the Rangers. The Isles still have questions on their blue line and in their forward depth. The Blue Jackets have a great set of forwards, but their defense is suspect.