Archive for Players

henrik lundqvist

As the Rangers get deeper in the dog days of the hockey season, there’s been more and more attention paid to Henrik Lundqvist’s workload. He’s started 23 of 26 games already this season, and is on pace to start 72 games this year. The last time Hank started that many games was the 2009-2010 season.

As Hank ages, remember that he’s 35 already, he will need to get more rest so he can be fresh for any potential playoff run. It’s something that Alain Vigneault has been trying to accomplish for each of the past few seasons. So far, it seems that AV doesn’t have the same faith in Ondrej Pavelec that he’s had in his other backups.

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Nov
29

Nick Holden has been surprisingly good

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nick holden

Nick Holden was the target of some much deserved criticism at the end of last season. He and Marc Staal combined to be on the ice for what felt like every tying/winning goal against in the Ottawa series. While it’s hyperbole to state they were on for all the important goals against, they were on for at least half.

There was hope that the Rangers would trade Holden and make room for one of the many defense prospects currently in Hartford. However that never came to be, as Alain Vigneault preferred to keep Holden and give the kids more time in the AHL. With the Rangers blue line a mess, Holden is a popular target for criticism. While there are gaffes, last night’s epic fail leading to the game winner for Florida on everyone’s mind, he’s been surprisingly solid thus far.

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Nov
28

Rick Nash is Actually Good

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rick nash

Photo: Jim McIsaac/Newsday

Continuing with the praise of guys who seem to get a lot of heat, let’s look at Rick Nash. His $7.8 million contract has been a lightning rod for people, and for good reason. Paying that much should mean star production. The key here is that “star production” can be a subjective term.

For Nash, it seems people are expecting 40-50 goals per year. I personally think that to be a bit unrealistic, as Nash has only done that twice in his career. However he’s been close to or has exceeded the 30-goal per 82-game pace for most of his tenure in New York. His injury riddled seasons the past two years being the only two where he hasn’t averaged a 30-goal pace. Injuries, especially concussions, can be very tricky.

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Being a fan of star-crossed team can be one of the cruelest forms of self-inflicted punishment. Only the most masochistic of us can envision an ending for our favorite team that most likely will lead to heartbreak, and yet exacerbate it with the hope that “maybe this year will be different”.

The Past

“History is written by the victors” – Winston Churchill (maybe)

For example, by Emmanuel Perry’s WAR metric from corsica.hockey, last year’s Washington Capitals were the 5th best team in terms of total WAR since 2010.  Despite the fact that last year’s Penguins were the top-ranked team in the same time frame, Washington outshot Pittsburgh by nearly 60 shots over the course of the seven-game series.

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Nov
15

Kevin Hayes is actually good

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One of the more polarizing players on the Rangers is Kevin Hayes. Hayes is viewed as an inconsistent center who “is not good defensively” and “lazy” by some. Others see Hayes as a talented middle-six center who plays a balanced game. The reality is the latter, not the former.

After an impressive rookie campaign, Hayes had what was perceived as a down year in 2015-2016. He followed that up with a strong third year in New York, recording career highs in assists (32) and points (49) while tying his career high in goals (17). The team rewarded his season and improvement with the 2C role following the Derek Stepan trade.

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Nov
14

There’s always room for improvement

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brendan smith

In case you missed it, the Rangers have won six in a row and have stormed back into relevancy for this year’s NHL season. They’ve done it on the backs of the KZB line, balanced secondary/tertiary scoring, and a Henrik Lundqvist that is giving the middle finger to his doubters. What they haven’t done, though, is optimize the lineup and improve where there are clear improvements to be made.

It’s no coincidence that the winning streak started when Alain Vigneault stopped with the silliness of dressing eleven forwards and seven defensemen. That was one improvement that helped turn the team around (a regression to the mean for SH% is also a primary catalyst for this as well). But one thing to note, something that applies to life as well as sports, is that bad decisions may net good results sometimes in the short term, but in the long run will lead to bad results.

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Kevin Hayes will never be a Selke winner. We also know that chances are he’ll never be a top line franchise center. He’s somewhere in between. Hayes has however, proven to be a reliable middle six center who has a strong offensive skill set.

What we are starting to see from Hayes however is that he can be trusted to be used in a defensive role, even if it doesn’t play to his full strengths – at worst he’s not a liability in such a role. The key has to be usage, and not just for Hayes. The Rangers cannot use Hayes as a pure match-up center and the intention should surely be to have three centers who can be trusted at both ends of the ice.

Hayes is probably never going to be a 60+ point guy given the way he is being utilised however, providing Alain Vigneault can utilise his big center properly, Hayes can cause a re-think in the Rangers mid to long term strategy at center. (asterisk attached to this entire piece: can we trust AV to use him properly?).

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Every few years, a prospect comes along that makes a fan base salivate.  Of course, the expectations of fans are often unrealistic, and the success of supposed “top prospects” is never guaranteed (unless they’re in the category of say, Sidney Crosby or Connor McDavid).

A few years ago, Pavel Buchnevich became that prospect for Rangers fans.  Though he was just a third round pick, word spread quickly (along with plenty of impressive video highlights) that Buchnevich was the real deal.  Sporting great hands, a smooth stride and a high offensive IQ, the young Russian posted impressive point totals as a kid in the KHL, widely acknowledged as the second best league in the world.  When Buchnevich arrived in New York last year, everyone was anxious to see what he could do at the NHL level.

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Nov
07

Kevin Shattenkirk has been as advertised

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kevin shattenkirk

The major signing of the summer was Kevin Shattenkirk. The Rangers moved one popular player and bought out another to make room for the 28 year old defenseman. Shattenkirk was brought in to bring life to the power play and to stabilize the top-four defensemen, especially on the right side.

Through the first 15 games this season, Shattenkirk has done exactly what has been expected of him. Despite not finding a permanent defense partner yet, Shattenkirk has put up 5-10-15 in those 15 games, a 22-49-71 pace for 82 games. That puts him in the Norris conversation. It’s still early, but that’s as impressive a start as you can get.

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brendan smith

Note: Big welcome to Chris (@yolo_pinyato), the newest writer at BSB. Chris has put together some phenomenal work at HockeyGraphs, and has present at the RIT Hockey Analytics Conference. We are all stoked to have him on board. Give him a follow on Twitter and check out his work, it’s great stuff.

With the Rangers season already perilously close to teetering off the edge of contention, I wanted to take a quick look at the Ranger’s big offseason acquisition, Kevin Shattenkirk.

First a quick breakdown of the data:

When looking at Shattenkirk’s shot impacts last year at 5v5, we can see that relative to competition, he was by far the best player of the Rangers’ current set of defensemen. The shot impacts are weighted meaning that if two players had the same Corsi For% but different levels of competition, the player with the stronger competition would be higher on the y-axis.

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