Revisiting that bursting bubble for the Rangers

Earlier this month, I wrote a post about the New York Rangers and how their underlying numbers weren’t those of a team that can win a Stanley Cup. While that post may have been a bit doomsday/worst case scenario, the numbers didn’t lie. It’s a position that I still take: I don’t believe this team has been playing a dominant puck possession game, like they did last season. Of course, they haven’t been dressing their best lineup, but that’s a horse I’ve beaten to death.

Let’s revisit those possession numbers, using the last two months of games as an indicator of how they’ve been playing. Now this is where things get interesting, as the Rangers have actually played to a 52.9% SAT%/CF% over the past 23 games, since January 1, 2015. All this while playing a possession vacuum on the fourth line regularly (ok, sorry).

Here’s a chart of how they’ve performed:

Very few games below 50%.
Very few games below 50%.

It’s worth noting that there are very few games under 50% here. Their average has been 52.9%, which has boosted them to 51.3% CF%/SAT% over the course of the season. I have to admit, that’s fairly impressive when you consider that Tanner Glass is in the lineup regularly (I know, I know, but it’s a serious issue).

Now there are still some concerns. Their on-ice SH% is still absurdly high, and has been carrying them while Henrik Lundqvist has been out.

This is very, very high.
This is very, very high.

This chart shows their SH% over the same time frame, and it’s been about 10% over that time, which is very high. They’ve had a high SH% all year at 9.4%, second only to Tampa Bay at 9.5%. The concern here is that SH% is very volatile and has been shown to be a skill that is not repeatable, and league average is around 7%. The good thing is that when Hank returns, he should be able to carry them through some shooting droughts.

Another concern is right defense, which is a bit of a mess outside of Kevin Klein. Dan Boyle has been a non-factor, and Dan Girardi has been subpar, and that’s putting it nicely.

Those are two pretty big red flags for this team, and that doesn’t even include the looming roster decision coming when Jesper Fast returns to the lineup. I’m hopeful that Alain Vigneault will see the chemistry of Carl Hagelin-Kevin Hayes-J.T. Miller and not mess with it. I think it’s actually a possibility now, as Miller appears to have gained some of AV’s trust.

A lot can happen between now and the trade deadline a week from now, and this team really perplexes me. I’m still cautiously optimistic, whereas last year I was much more confident. This team wins though.

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  • I agree. While Av hockey has been exciting to watch, I’ve chewed my nails down to the bone watching the games.

    I also understand that there are a lot of new faces that are learning.


    That’s 4/20 or 20% rollover, but not putting vets in.

    This is what we have all been asking for. Play the kids. This is what okay the kids look like.

    We have been spoiled by the rangers ability to make the playoffs and we pushed hard last year.

    Not sure that the Av way will net a cup. But I always like being proved wrong.

  • The numbers don’t lie, and the weaknesses have got to be addressed. Right D has been an issue, maybe it goes to the point that when the PO’s start, the vets get going. I have a problem with that thought process because teams could catch fire, and possibly pass us in the standings. I suspect that will not happen, but as I said before, bad habits are forming, slack play, and that has to be corrected.

    Here’s a thought, why not bring up McIlrath?? You sit either Girardi, or Boyle against a weaker team, play the kid, and maybe light a fire under their collective tail ends. I believe that these guys are just too comfortable, and need a rude awakening!!!!!

    This is the classic reason why I hate long term, hefty contracts. If your playing for a new contract every few years, your always hustling, whereas if you get the long term, you sit back on your duff a bit more…………Maybe the old Brooklyn Dodgers had it right, one year deals, that’s it, but times have changed???????????????

    Now let’s se what kind of smart ass remark Bob has for us all today.

    • The old Brooklyn Dodgers had the reserve clause. Baseball players did not have multti-year contracts in those days because the only negotiating leverage they had was holding out which meant that they didn’t get paid at all. And in those days most players worked real jobs in the off season to make ends meet.

  • One of the new stats on that I came across was average shot length. The good news is that the Rangers are actually best in the league with the shortest average shot length.

    This seems to indicate the Rangers are taking higher quality shots then average, so maybe they can continue their high sh%.

    • That is a really interesting stat. It would jibe with my sense as a spectator that the Rangers almost never shoot from the point. They always make the extra pass. You don’t get the crowd reaction from TV, because it’s too muted, but at the Garden, there’s a constant murmur (plus scattered shouts, of course) of “Shoot!” whenever the Rangers are passing the puck around the offensive zone, but they continue to play their passing game.

      • That happens everywhere, not just at the Garden, and it’s usually shouted by people that don’t understand hockey. Those tend to be fans that don’t understand that taking a point shot into a forwards shin pads usually means a shorthanded breakaway in the other direction.

        Sorry, this is just a major pet peeve of mine.

  • Right D needs an upgrade, but also the 4th line (as we all know). For some reason I think Zucc is being dangled if they are not as close to a deal as everyone thinks.

    I like the 3rd line chemistry as well, but imagine putting a guy like Artem Anisimov on that line with Hags/Hayes? Moore/Fast/JT makes a pretty good 4th line as well.

    Just thinking aloud

    • I would love to have Artie back. He would be perfect on the third line. Him and Hayes paired with either MSL or Hags would be a dynamite line.

      I imagine JT plus some minor pieces could get it done. The bigger issue is how would you fit Artie’s $3.2M cap hit into next year’s team?

        • Because I think Artie is twice the player Miller is. That’s not a knock on Miller I just think Artie is an amazing hockey player and he happens to fill a few needs the Rangers have, namely, size with skill, a responsible two-way center, and a reliable PK’er.

          • I loved Artie. I would love to have him back in Ranger blue, not that Rangeresque knock-off Columbus gear.

  • The guy I like the most in a trade is Winnick for the 4th line. He was a guy I was hoping the Rangers would sign in the offseason. That being said I’m not giving up a lot for him either. Something like Connor Allen and a fourth rounder which probably won’t do it since most team’s try the fleece job at the trading deadline. Winnick-Moore-Fast would be an excellent 4th line in my view.

  • J.T. actually got a shift in OT on Sunday.
    Hagelin, who was the best player on the ice in the 1st 2 periods, did not. Mind boggling.

  • Shoring up that bottom line does seem to be the real pressing need right now. Each of the top 3 lines have proven, when on, that they can compete. Need Fast back, and if Stemp isn’t the answer on the 4LW, an upgrade may be needed. A few subtle changes on the back end can put this team where it needs to be come playoff time. And another defenseman, but that may not be in the cards.

  • There are only a few numbers that matter. With three games in hand, we are only two points behind the Fisherman, and with one game in hand, we are only three points behind conference leading Montreal. I think we are in good shape. All this pessimism is found upon advance statistics that I think are looking a little too far into things. We are in good shape, boys. Have some faith.

    • I generally agree with you, although there was a real worry with the team’s possession. They’ve righted that ship for the most part lately, but Glass is still an anchor on the team. Can’t argue that.

  • I agree that Glass is not the ideal NHL player, but he’s still an NHL player. People talk about him as if we have John Scott back there or something. There’s a reason Glass plays over a lot of other guys in the system. He has experience, the NHL game isn’t overwhelming to him, and he plays physical. Anyone expecting Glass to be offensive isn’t respecting the role he’s being asked to play. He’s not the best player at his role, he’s overpaid, and we could acquire someone else with more skill to dress in his place, but I think Glass can play.

  • I am not sold that McIlrath is not an NHL defenseman. I believe he will be and adds a dimension the Rangers lack. Hockey is not just about scoring. However you want to view the team by analytic s do so, it does not give the whole picture nor an accurate one. Does it help. yes but it is not say all on how a team performs. If you solely base your opinion on analytic s then your post is flawed. How will analytic statistics ever be able to show attitude, hockey zany plays or puck luck?
    The Rangers are finding ways to win, how about a post on that? Does every post have to have controversy or speculation? Just saying fellas.

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