AP Photo/Jay LaPrete

AP Photo/Jay LaPrete

We have hit the ten game mark of the regular season, and the Rangers are off to a good start at 6-2-2. The team hasn’t been perfect –the blue line has been downright awful, which is a combination of personnel and recovering from injuries– but they’ve been able to pick each other up when needed. The goaltending in particular has really bailed this team out when they’ve needed it.

The offense has had three clunkers (Winnipeg, Montreal, New Jersey) but overall has been consistent. The bottom-six has been pretty solid while the top-six still attempt to figure it all out. This group of forwards is the deepest offensively I’ve ever seen from a Rangers team. Ever. And this is without a very skilled Emerson Etem getting regular playing time.

Shot Attempts

There are a few red flags regarding the Rangers, and some will point to the Rangers possession (48% CF) as a major sticking point as to why the Rangers will falter later. But the problem with just looking at the number is that it ignores trends.

cf nyr

We see here that the Rangers poor possession number thus far is largely influenced by three god-awful games. The top chart is the Rangers CF% on a game-by-game basis. After the first three games, they’ve been around 50% on average. The bottom chart is how many games the Rangers have had at a specific CF%. The dashed line is the average, which is 48%, but the highest peak –meaning the most number of games played at that possession level– is more around 52%. So believe it or not, the Rangers are controlling possession more than most think.

Scoring Chances

Scoring chances are a different story. This graph is all over the place, and the distribution is less than favorable. This means that the Rangers, while getting a good amount of scoring chances, are also hemorrhaging so quality chances to opponents a bit more often than we’d like to see.

scf nyr

The top chart, again a game-by-game look at scoring chances for (SCF), is all over the place. We can’t get much from that graph. However the bottom graph shows that while the Rangers average a little bit higher than 50% on scoring chances, there are a few games that really skew that average (the little bump on the right). The greatest volume of games are around 45% SCF for the Rangers. That’s a product of poor team defense, mentioned above.

High Danger Scoring Chances

High danger scoring chances are another way of looking at scoring chances, but from an “on the doorstep” point of view. These are shots that are considered point-blank, giving goaltenders little reaction time.┬áThis is a subset of scoring chances, and usually represent huge breakdowns in defense.

hsca nyr

We don’t get much from the top chart, other than the fact that the Rangers have probably put more pressure on their goaltenders than we’d like to see. The bottom chart, however, shows that our eyes are fixated on the spectacular saves, but overall the Rangers are getting more high-dangers chances than their opposition. Their average is above 50%, and the peak on the chart is around 60%, showing that the majority of games thus far have the Rangers with a roughly 60-40 advantage in high danger chances.

Conclusion

We are victims of small sample size, but we can reasonably conclude that the Rangers’ “possession woes” are largely skewed by a few games early in the season. They aren’t going to be a possession juggernaut by any means, but they should finish above 50%, which is all you really want from them. The defense has been suspect, but the goaltending has really bailed them out.

The biggest concern on this team is the blue line. They’ve had a really rough start to the year. They are improving, but better teams will make the Rangers pay for those breakdowns, especially as the goaltending comes back down to Earth a bit. But at 6-2-2, it’s tough to really complain. The blue line will, for the most part, figure itself out, especially as Ryan McDonagh figures his game out.

The Rangers will get better as the season progresses, and they will work out the kinks. They’ve done that in both seasons under Alain Vigneault so far. It hasn’t been perfect, but you can’t ask for a better start.

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