Archive for Steve Valliquette

As we continue to digest last night’s win over the Kings (is winning getting boring, yet?), I thought we could go off-topic on this snowy Friday afternoon. For our regular readers, you know that I have been clamoring for a more comprehensive goaltending statistic than our standard rate stats; GAA and save percentage. As the world of Corsi and Fenwick and the like continue to evolve, goaltending statistics remain woefully underdeveloped. Enter former Rangers goaltender Steve Valiquette, who in addition to Sportsnet’s Chris Boyle (Shot Quality Project), have begun comprehensive research into how shot quality effects goaltender performance. (s/t to Kevin Power)

Every time a new goalie metric is conceptually introduced, I am forced to feel like an ungrateful cynic. Smart, hardworking, dedicated people are attempting to give me what I’ve asked for. Maybe it’s the delivery; “Steve Valiquette is going to change the way we think about goaltending!”, “This new statistic is going to revolutionize goaltending!”. No, it’s not. But it’s a great start.

MSG Networks

MSG Networks

I don’t want to get into the mechanics too much, but here is pretty much how Valiquette’s theory works:

  • The zone is divided in half, vertically from the center bar of the net to the top of the circles, and is bisected by a horizontal line going laterally across the top of the circles.
  • The centerline is Valiquette’s “Royal Road”. This line represents the lateral marker a puck travels across within that zone, which leads to higher percentage shots.
  • The types of shots are broken down into “Green” and “Red” shots.
  • Green shots include
    • Possession across “Royal Road”
    • Passes across “Royal Road”
    • Deflections
    • One-timers on same side of “Royal Road”
    • Screens
    • Broken plays
    • Green Rebounds
  • Red shots include
    • Shots from outside the designated area
    • Red rebounds
  • Green shots have accounted for roughly 76% of NHL goals this season, and are obviously converted at a much higher rate than Red shots (24%).

Ok, with that out of the way, here is my take. I think it’s fantastic the work Valiquette is putting in. I hope that is leads to a wealth of new information about how goaltending is evaluated. Once you get past all the terminology, his theory is pretty simple: shots that come what we consider “dangerous” areas of the ice are converted at a higher rate, more so if the goaltender is forced to move laterally. There is also a much higher chance of rebounds, deflections and scrambles resulting in goals than shots from the perimeter.

This all seems pretty obvious, no? I don’t mean to sound overly negative, but it seems to dress up a lot of concepts we simply take for granted, even if they aren’t currently quantified. Don’t get me wrong, I think this tracking concept has a ton of value as a foundation to a more comprehensive, value-based statistic (any statisticians out there, hit me up. I’ve got ideas).

I think that the greatest value this methodology has is situational analysis of current form. Craig Custance over at ESPN spoke to Valiquette about it (Insider post), and applied the method to Dallas goaltender Kari Lehtonen to evaluate whether his poor (relatively) rate stats this year are a true dip in form or whether he is getting hung out to dry. This is a really effective use of this statistic, but there is no basis for comparison that you can really hang your hat on to assess value.

Either way, this is a big step in the right direction for the continued evolution of advanced statistics. I believe a foundational concept now exists to build on, from a quantitative standpoint, and that is incredibly impressive in itself. But, as I said with GSAA, it’s a great start, and an evolution, but certainly not a revolution.

Categories : Analysis, Goaltending
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Johnson Back, Vally Down

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Chad Johnson is back with the Rangers, who resumed practice today. Steve Valliquette has been sent back to Hartford, in the 132nd round of the 2010 Great Goalie Shuffle.

Categories : Call Ups/Demotions
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Valliquette Recalled

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Bit of housekeeping here: Rangers have called up Steve Valliquette from Hartford. This move is to allow Matt Zaba to play in Hartford over the break. Vally has a broken finger, but NHL rules require two goalies on the active roster. Once the break ends, I’d assume that the Great Goalie Shuffle continues.

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Valliquette Out; Is It For Good?

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Now that Steve Valliquette has been waived, it seems to me that this will be the last we’ll see of our dependable backup goalie. Why? Because they would not have sent him down. Look, I understand that Valliquette needs playing time to stay sharp–and he’s not going to get that in New York. But because he was so bad, and because the Rangers are seemingly okay with Chad Johnson as an emergency backup, I fear that Valliquette will no longer be donning the Ranger blue. The Rangers would not have made this move if they thought he was the answer as a backup. For one, Valliquette could be claimed by another team. Rangers apparently aren’t scared of that. Two, even if he plays well in Hartford, trust in Vally has been lost. This is the last we’ve seen of Valliquette. I’ve always been a fan of him. But, this is a business, and the best players win out.  I also think that the Rangers will make a move for an experienced backup–someone like Marty Biron, Patrick Lalime, Ty Conklin.

Categories : Analysis
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Valliquette Waived, Christensen Claimed

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The Rangers made a pair of waiver moves today, waiving goaltender Steve Valliquette and claiming forward Erik Christensen from Anaheim. The Valliquette move is unsurprising, considering he has been less than reliable this year. Valliquette’s cap-hit was $725,000. It is likely that Chad Johnson will be called up to replace him as the backup goaltender. So far this season, Johnson has posted a line of 10-6-1, with a 2.10 GAA and a .926 SV%, and will represent a cap hit of a prorated $850,000.

Christensen, an RFA after this season, will be a cap hit of $750,000 (prorated). The soon-to-be 26 year old winger played 9 games for the Ducks, putting up no points and a -3. With 13 forwards already on the NHL roster for the Rangers (Christensen makes 14), it’s safe to assume another roster move is coming. Will P.A. Parenteau be returned to Hartford? That is probably the most obvious, and easiest, move to make. However, Parenteau, while not standing out in his call up, hasn’t necessarily done anything that warrants him being returned to the AHL. Speculation is always fun. Personally, I wouldn’t be surprised to see any of Brian Boyle, Aaron Voros, Christopher Higgins, or Enver Lisin let go.

Remember, the Rangers will need another forward spot when Brandon Dubinsky returns from injury. Speculate away!

Categories : Waiver Wire
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Vally / Lisin In; O’Brien Suspended

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Some notes:

  • As per Steve Zipay, Steve Valliquette will be in net tonight, and Enver Lisin will be returning to the lineup as well.
  • As per Andrew Gross, Canucks defenseman Shane O’Brien has been suspended for jabbing his stick at Ranger winger Sean Avery during that melee in Vancouver.
  • It is presumed that there will be no lineup changes, in terms of who is dressing, for tonight’s game. As noted above, Lisin is back; and as discussed yesterday, Dane Byers has been suspended for this game.
Categories : Lineup Changes
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Second Guessing Torts

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Throughout his tenure, I haven’t really second guessed John Tortorella. I’ve agreed with all his moves, and the results, so far, have been pretty good. Monday, against the Sharks, provided the first time to second guess him. Torts went with Steve Valliquette against the high powered Sharks. Now, his reasoning was that he wanted to give Hank rest, and that it doesn’t really matter the opponent. Well, it does. The Sharks are one of the best teams in the NHL. They have an unbelievable offense, led by Joe Thornton, Dany Heatley and company. They are the Caps of the West. And yet, Torts went with Valliquette. Not with Lundqvist. I understand giving Henrik a rest. In fact, he needs rest, especially in an Olympic year. But, rest him against the Maple Leaves. Rest him against the lesser teams in the NHL. Not San Jose. Not one of the best. Hopefully, Torts will learn from his mistake. He’ll play Vally against Toronto, or the Islanders. He won’t play him against Pittsburgh, or against Washington. Let’s hope.

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Naslund to Retire?

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So, as per Larry Brooks, and all the beat writers, Ranger winger Markus Naslund is going to retire, having confirmed it to his teammates during breakup day. However, Naslund has yet to confirm this to the media, so it is still an unofficial retirement.

Personally, I won’t believe it until a press conference is called, or Naslund confirms it to the media. I find it very hard to believe that someone who put up 24 goals last season, someone who is guaranteed $3 million next year, is going to hang them up. But that’s just my two cents.

If Naslund does retire, he retires with career totals of 395-474-869 in 15 NHL seasons (1117 games). While that’s not Hall of Fame, that’s a pretty solid career.

In Naslund’s defense, while he may not have been worth the $4 million cap hit (2 years – $8 million, cap hit is yearly average of the deal), he, for the most part, brought exactly what I thought he would, a 20-30 goal season, decent leadership, and a fading ability to keep up with the younger talent. I thought he would help the anemic powerplay, I was wrong there, but you can’t really blame Naslund for that one.

So what does this do for the Rangers? First, and most importantly, this saves them $4 million in cap room. It may not seem like much, but when Sather must resign Ryan Callahan, Brandon Dubinsky, and Lauri Korpikoski this offseason, and Dan Girardi and Marc Staal next offseason, that $4 million is going to come in handy (especially with the cap headed to an estimated $48-$50 million for the 2010-2011 season). That $4 million can also be used to help resign Blair Betts and Fred Sjostrom this offseason. These are 7 players that the Rangers can ill afford to lose if they want to get younger and faster.

Second, this opens up a winger spot on a top line for the aforementioned Korpikoski, who for a while was toiling on the 4th line. He will finally have a consistent chance to show he is better than the 6-8-14 he put up this season. He will need that chance, and I am happy he finally gets it.

Third, and this part scares me a bit, it opens Sather up to resign both of the Niks. Personally, I would just want Zherdev back, for the RIGHT deal. But with the added flexibility, and Sather’s track record, I wouldn’t really be all that surprised if both of them wind up back in Blue for next season, and a few seasons down the road. (Side note: I think his best option would be to cut both Niks loose and steal Alexander Radulov back from Russia, who has a $1 million cap hit for one season, and puts up the same numbers as the Niks.)

This is all speculative, as these are unconfirmed reports that he will retire.

Also, Ranger backup Steve Valliquette will be back next season. Apparently his deal was for two years, not one. He is a solid backup, and comes at a cheap price. Nothing wrong with this one.

Update 4:00pm I guess me and Stas need to work on our communication skills. We posted on the Naslund retirement at the exact same time. Creepy.

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Game 67: Rangers at Carolina

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The current playoff picture is as follows:


Suffice it to say, tonight’s game against Carolina is huge. None of the other teams in this logjam are in action tonight, so the Rangers can gain two points in the standings and move into sole possession of 5th place, while knocking some wind out of Carolina’s sails tonight, and drawing even with Pitt in wins. Should they lose, the Rangers will drop to the 9 seed, and out of the playoff picture (Pitt has the tie breaker in total wins), with one game in hand on Carolina.

Every point matters, so the Rangers should be aggressive in winning this before overtime. It will be a tough task, as Carolina has been red hot lately, going 7-2 in their last 9, including dominating wins over Calgary and Washington, before raping TB on Saturday. Cam Ward has started the last 14 games for Carolina, and will probably make it 15 straight tonight.

As for the Rangers, Steve Valliquette will be in net tonight. Hank started the previous 13 straight, and will be getting a breather in the 2nd of back-to-back games. Aaron Voros will also be scratched tonight for the 4th straight game (as per Zipay). Voros probably won’t get much playing time under Torts, he’s too slow to play at the level Torts’ system calls for.

The game is on Vs. tonight at 7pm. I’ll be watching the game on mute, while listening to Kenny Alberts’ call of the game. I just can’t stand Emerick. I still want to know what a waffle board is. I’ll be at Local watching the game with a friend. No live blog from me tonight.

Categories : Game Thread
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Korpo/Vally In, Fritsche Out, Prucha Sits Again

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As per Sam Weinman, the revolving door that is the Rangers lineup is getting tweaked again. The Korpedo is back in tonight in lieu of Dan Fritsche, who was invisible last game. Valliquette is also in tonight, with Hank expected to get the start tomorrow at The Igloo.

As for Prucha, he’s sitting again. I guess Voros’ presence in front of the net is worth 3 minor penalties a game. I don’t know how Prucha can keep his positive attitude while getting benched for no apparent reason. More power to him.

So tonight the Rangers again will have two forwards sitting in the press box, and the same six defensemen playing. Seriously, just waive Fritsche. What does he bring to this lineup?

Update 3:00pm: I guess the Rangers management reads this blog. Fritsche has indeed been waived (Note, this is in French):

Fritsche au ballottage

Les Rangers de New York ont placé le nom de Dan Fritsche au ballottage mardi.

New York Rangers have placed? the name of Dan Fritsche to the ballot Tuesday. (Translation coming via Google Translate). Obviously “to the ballot” means “waived”. That should free up some cap room.

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