Mailbag: Offensive zone time, Toughness, McIlrath/Lindberg, McDonagh

Got four questions for the mailbag, so let’s have at it.

Q (More of an FYI, from Ray): I questioned the SAT data showing the Lightning dominated the first two periods of Game 6 in a BSB comment.  Anyway, I actually didn’t watch the game live – I taped it -and so I could revisit it. I tried to keep track of zone time in the first period (too mindless to do the entire game).
My numbers aren’t perfect, I’m sure, but they are unbiased with presumably small errors which likely mostly balance out.

I believe OZ time itself is a better indicator of possession, but the NHL stopped tracking it in 2001 for some reason. We use SAT because, logically, if you have the puck in the offensive zone, you are getting shot attempts. Yes, this does undervalue the cycle, and wearing down and pinning the opposition, but the goal of the cycle is to get shot attempts. You can cycle all you want, but if you don’t get shot attempts, the puck won’t go in.

Your email was very detailed. I’m posting the full email in the comments so that people can discuss.

Q, from Petre: The need some tough, skilled forwards for second and third lines….trade Talbot to get into the first round. He’s a very valuable commodity maybe more so now than before. Also let St.Louis go..not that he doesn’t have heart. When watching the playoffs I felt there was way to much play in the Rangers’ end. There need to be changes. I would say toughness was lacking?

There are a few questions here, but let’s get through some of the roster decisions before going over toughness. Cam Talbot is not worth enough to get you into the first round. The goalie market is underwhelming, and now that Robin Lehner is on the market, it takes away from Talbot’s value. To get full value, you need to package him. I agree on Martin St. Louis, it’s time to cut bait.

In regards to time spent in the Rangers’ end, without actually tracking OZ time, we don’t know for sure, but Ray’s data showed the Rangers were in the Bolts’ end more in Game 6. You can use war-on-ice to look at the SAT%/CF%, which gives you the best indication of zone time. The problem is that the score will affect this, as a team protecting a lead will be more focused on defense, and vice versa.

Q, from “anon” (really?): Have you seen this article on McIlrath/Lindberg? Looks like McIlrath is improving.

That article certainly is promising, and if you have the time, you should all be reading it. Jeff Beukeboom singled out Dylan McIlrath as a kid who was showing great improvements in the latter half of the season and the playoffs. Beuk notes that McIlrath is a big hitter, which we know already, but also noted that his big hits didn’t take him out of position. For someone like McIlrath, who will struggle to skate, positioning is everything. The fact that he isn’t running around hitting people and disregarding his position is a good sign.

The article also mentions that Oscar Lindberg could be NHL ready for next year. My guess is that the Rangers will expect him to compete until the very last day for a roster spot.

Q (from Jon): I took the time to dissect Ryan McDonagh’s numbers prior to his injury in Game 4 of the ECF and after. I came up with this table.


Thank you for putting this together, much appreciated.

The injury really did take its toll on McDonagh. His TOI was cut by four minutes, taking two less shifts per game (mostly from the shorthanded TOI). He wasn’t as physically engaged, he wasn’t as offensively engaged, and he just looked off. This confirms it. Thank you again for putting this together.

As always, if you have a question for the mailbag, use the form on the sidebar.

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  • As mentioned above, here’s Ray’s full email:

    I questioned the SAT data showing the Lightning dominated the first two periods
    of Game 6 in a BSB comment. Anyway, I actually didn’t watch the game live – I taped it – and so I could revisit it.

    I tried to keep track of zone time in the first period (too mindless to do the entire game). My numbers aren’t perfect, I’m sure, but they are unbiased with presumably small errors which likely mostly balance out.

    Anyway, ES, time in Ranger DZ 471 sec; time in Lightning DZ 341 sec. This paints a fairly accurate picture I think, a bit closer than the 2-1 domination SAT numbers show. Where the SAT numbers went astray was the period culminating
    in the first goal.

    The Rangers enjoyed a zone domination of 92-61 to that point but the SATs mistakenly show TB domination. I was aware of this at the time and had improperly guessed that this pattern continued. In fact however, OZ time and SATs paint roughly the same picture for the remainder of the period.

    A few observations on the numbers. I counted everything except icing and called offsides, so there is some noise in the data – time when the extent of an OZ penetration is just the puck. Once the puck was in the Ranger DZ for ten seconds without a TB player ever going near it. This twisted the numbers in two offsetting ways. Because the Ranger forecheck is so relentless, the Lightning rarely held the puck in their DZ – they advanced it quickly; the Rangers were more likely to stay in the DZ to set up.

    OTOH, if we correct for this and subtract more time from the Ranger DZ than from the Lightning DZ, the percentages probably don’t change. The padded numbers make both the Lightning and the dominated team look better percentage-wise.

    Unpleasant note: When the Lightning applied pressure, the Rangers rarely got the
    puck out easily. The reverse was not true.

    Anyway, my conclusion is that with a very small sample size, SATs will paint a warped picture of what is going on, but even with a sample as small as one period, they don’t seem to do a bad job.

    On the power play, these same numbers don’t indicate what is going on. The first
    TB PP gave the numbers 44-44, but the Rangers had only one rush – most of their
    44 seconds was TB setting up. Of course, the fact that TB spent only 37% of their
    PP time in the OZ is telling.

    P.S. Incidentally the SAT numbers show an even second period — the margin
    between TB and Ranger shots stayed the same.

  • Regarding McDonagh’s ice-time, Kieth Olberman did a segment this week blasting the Rangers’ use of McDonagh despite his injury.

    He claims that McDonagh actually played more shifts per game after the injury than before, though he’s only using ECF data, and not the entirety of the playoffs on this one. Games 1-4, 28 shifts p/g, games 5-7, 28.7.

      • Really. What a fool. I’m not saying that AV made the rite decision scratching a big 2-way centerman for 4:17 of Matt Hunwick but shut up. You idiots don’t know the game or its culture. Maybe McDonagh should have sat out and let Hunwick play 2nd pair or top pair since he would have been the only lefty defenseman healthy.
        I wanna know why the Rangers couldn’t generate any scoring chances on TB 1 pair zone defense? After Strahlman/Hedman their D suck defensively. If I remember correctly the Rangers had 1 decent scoring chance in the 3rd period. Was that because all the D were gimps and couldn’t make a play? Or the forwards gave up after the 2nd goal? IMO the Rangers offense could have scored 5 goals in the last 10 of that period but nothing got to the net. Creativity ceased to exist.
        I agree with the mailbag question. The Rangers should try to use Talbot (in a package) for the 16th pick from EDM. No one is getting picks 1-5 or maybe 1-10. But this 2-way righty Meier may be available at 16. He’s responsible defensively and skilled. Can create on top line or shut down on the 4th line. Maybe Talbot and Girardi/Or Klein gets that done. If it’s Girardi we have to take back a bad contract. EDM can’t eat $7. If it’s Klein then it should be straight up. Maybe a young player comes back.
        I don’t think we can keep Boyle either. Buying him out would create $3 more mil in space but I think we’d have $1.5 mil off the top of our cap next 2 years I think. Is that worth it. We’re are we going to find a righty D or maybe two? Skjei seems primed to come up and his skating is amazing. Could McIlrath actually play in the NHL next year. He’ll get his shot in camp being a righty. If the Rangers can find a Silverberg type player for Brassard and Nash’s RW. Get rid of Girardi’ contract and create

        That’s all for me. Eyes getting heavy. I hope Sather has one more good draft In him. Unless Gorton is already Thd puppet p

  • First off, Olberman is a moron, secondly Olberman is still a moron, who can take that clown seriously?????

    The best part of the post today Dave is the news on Mc Ilrath, finally some good news on the kid. I hope the hell he makes the team and shuts up all those naysayer for being so down on him. Also I’ll be pulling for Lindberg, we have to see this kid in Ranger blue, and let him show his stuff. I remember his last year in the SEL, he was the MVP of the SEL, and the play-offs, scoring some, I don’t recall the exact number, but in the mid to high 20’s. He is very solid defensively, and has good soft hands, we need both from the kid!!!!!!!!!

  • Well, I’m not a “naysayer” on McIlrath or anyone else. My point all along was that he was NOT NHL ready, at least not this past season. The article seemed to confirm that. It said he really came on in the “second half” of the season, which clearly implies that he wasn’t good enough in the first half of the AHL season. That says to me that Sather and AV made the right decision with the kid in training camp last season. It was just silly talk that somehow he was ready and for whatever bizarre reason, AV didn’t want him. We learned in the article he apparently was really set back with his knee injury and just wasn’t ready. It’s encouraging to hear he has finally made strides.

    But again, while we can hope, let’s not forget a few things–

    1) Nowhere in this article did I see anyone say “No question……Dylan McIlrath is ready to make a significant impact in the NHL next season”. They said he made an impact and improved. All good, but still not an overwhelming endorsement.

    2) as I said the other day, if Gernander and Buekeboom are asked the question about their top prospects, what are they going to say, that they aren’t making progress?

    3) I haven’t heard anything from a scout, or any independent source, that McIlrath is NHL ready. We have heard that about Lindberg, which is good for him.

    4) I repeat again, in April listed McIlrath as the Rangers most disappointing prospect. That doesn’t mean they’re right, but I’m still waiting to see an independent source refute that.

    5) Five years is a long time to wait for a prospect. I realize his knee injury set him back significantly, but has he overcome it enough to play top quality NHL minutes?

    6) There are many, many examples of players who were able to make an impression in the AHL who never could translate it to the NHL. The irony is, McIlrath’s coach, Ken Gernander, was one of those guys. Outstanding AHL player–in fact the only number ever retired by Hartford. But never quite good enough to stick in the NHL. Just because McIlrath can throw bone rattling checks on the AHL level doesn’t mean that’s going to work against the kind of speed he would face in the NHL.

    He could be a career minor league guy. Or, perhaps his knee has recovered, he has figured it out, and he is ready to make an impact in the NHL level. If the latter, I will be the first one to say “Great!” We can use a player like that.

    All I’m saying is, it’s not because Sather and/or AV doesn’t like the kid or won’t give him a chance for some silly reason. It’s because he wasn’t NHL ready. Let’s not coronate him as this key piece of the puzzle until he actually proves he’s ready to live up to the lofty expectations put on him five years ago.

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