Mailbag: Puck possession, Stepan, scoring depth, and Dorsett

Source: Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images
Source: Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images

Received a few good questions via email and Twitter over the past couple of days:

Q: You spend a lot of time talking about puck possession, mostly in a post saying the Rangers are heading in the right direction. How can you use puck possession to measure how they will perform?

This is a bit of a loaded question, so let’s address a few points. The reason why we use puck possession (Corsi, Fenwick) over SOG here is because SOG only counts saves and goals. But not all shots get through or hit the net. Posts don’t count as shots. The theory is that the more time you spend directing the puck at the net, the better your odds are of scoring, and the less your opponent has the puck. Puck possession means nothing if you can’t score, but shooting percentage is almost impossible to predict, aside from regression to the mean. If the Rangers are controlling play, they will get the puck in the net.

Q: Did Saturday night’s game show that Derek Stepan finally broke out?

Stepan wasn’t going to score zero goals this season. The guy had 30 shots without a goal, he was not only due, but due in a big way. With his hat trick, he is back to 10% shooting and on pace for about 20 goals this season, which is what we expected from him. With Nash out he will need to step up his game. The good thing is that his line with Chris Kreider and Mats Zuccarello appears to be clicking.

Q: The Rangers have just three guys with over two goals this season, and one is hurt. Is that a cause for concern with Nash’s return date unknown?

Without a doubt, the lack of scoring has been a concern. The Rangers had allowed two goals or less in the past six games and won four of them, with three of them coming in the last three games. Shooting percentages should eventually correct themselves, but the Rangers will struggle to score consistent as long as Ryan Callahan and Rick Nash are out of the lineup. The defense, powerplay, and goaltending are going to be critical to keeping the Rangers in the playoff hunt while they deal with injuries.

Q: What is the point of having Derek Dorsett on this roster?

To be fair, I never received this question directly. It’s more of a complaint that people have had over the past few days.

Dorsett adds a much needed physical element that the Rangers don’t really have outside of the much-complained-about winger. Toughness and physicality is something that we mentioned could be an issue earlier this year, and it has been a slight concern so far. Now don’t get me wrong: There is a big, big difference between toughness/physicality and fighting. The days of the pure fighter are long gone. Dorsett is someone who can actually play the game (was one of Columbus’ top PKers before the trade). His penalty against Carolina wasn’t the best penalty to take, but it’s tough to blame him when he gets clipped like that. Dorsett is a guy that will provide the Rangers with a physical spark like Brandon Prust did, he just won’t drop the gloves as much.

Don’t forget that you can email or tweet (info on the sidebar) any questions you have.

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  • Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think Dorsett received any penalty during that sequence where he got clipped… there was a bit of a scuffle, but I think only Murphy got called for clipping, no?

    On a side, wasn’t Murphy in the Rangers system at one point, playing for Kitchener?

    • He elbowed Murphy the next time they were out on the ice together (and went out of his way to do it) leading to the PK in which CAR scored their only goal.

    • Kitchener are a Canadian Major Junior team that is not in anyway affiliated with our team. They just used the uniform layout and logo.

      • i’ve always wondered whats up with that. do they pay the rangers so they can do so? i mean, its completely the same. i think their helmets being red is the only difference.

  • Dorsett needs to pick his moments a little better. I’m not really appreciating him or Pyatt so far. Thought Prust brought much more to the table.

    • Agree, but Dorsett has been playing half decent (shows a little hustle, some nice SOG lately) and and add value when he just uses the head a little…like you said, just pick the spots.

      Pyatt, however, can stop taking the awful offensive zone penalties and still I don’t see what role he fits. Both he and Dorsett can use their heads to not hurt the team, but I only see Dorsett capable of adding value.

  • Can you explain how Pylon seems to always stay in the lineup ahead of others that appear more deserving based on his sluggish and unproductive play?!?

  • Id love to hear what you guys think about varlamov. Not to take away from rangers hockey but that news hurt hockey as a sport for a lot of people.

  • Dorsett has definitely better the last few games. Going to the net hard and not taking dumb penalties. Never shies away from a fight not matter how big the opponent is.

  • Last night’s game was an example of a team not ready to step-up. A team with insufficient will or leadership.

    Brasard is playing like a scared child. Doesnt hit, gives up the puck when the hit is coming and doesnt skate. That kind of play is a cancer and it spreads.

    Pyatt is a lost cause…Pouliot is at best a extra forward to be sat out most games.

    Del Zotto is a joke…cant skate, cant stick handle, cant get a shot on net through traffic, and doesnt defend well.

    Trades MUST be made.

    Del Zotto and Fast for Byfluien.
    Pouliot and Brassard for Glencross.
    Miller to play center.
    Mashinter to stay with the club.

    Gotta lose the baggage and get some grit.

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