henrik lundqvist

At this point last year, the Rangers were just starting their run of what felt like two months without a loss. The wins kept piling up, but there were significant flaws in the process, as the club was getting completely dominated. They relied on unsustainable goaltending and unrealistic shooting success. In December, they crashed to Earth hard.

This year is significantly different. The Rangers are enjoying some success, but not at the same level as last year. There are easily identifiable holes, but the overall process is significantly better. The Rangers are piling up the scoring chances and keeping clubs pinned in their own zone, something we didn’t see last year.

The chart above from Carolyn Wilke (a must follow on Twitter), shows how significant the change is. Last year, the Rangers were around where Chicago is currently. Unable to really drive possession and dominate opponents, but able to win games because of unsustainable goaltending and shooting.

This year, the Rangers are around where they should be in terms of PDO (SV% + SH%). The major difference is that the revamped forwards are able to sustain offensive pressure consistently. It’s still early, and it’s relatively unlikely that the Rangers continue to maintain a SCF of 60%, but it still showcases better overall play early on.

As for the PDO, well it’s a bit reversed from what you would expect of the Rangers.

From Sean Tierney (another must follow on Twitter), the Rangers have actually been getting subpar goaltending through the first eight games of the year. That’s probably something you didn’t need to be told, but this quantifies it. As for shooting, it’s the same as last year with a relatively unsustainable SH% that will come down.

But therein lies the interesting piece. As the SH% falls for the Rangers, we expect the goaltending to come back around. Henrik Lundqvist is a notorious slow starter –last year notwithstanding– and is still an All World caliber goalie. When his numbers rebound, it will counter the falling SH%.

It’s still early in the season, but the complete retool of the bottom-six has changed the outlook of the Rangers season. They still have holes on the blue line that need to be addressed to be a more balanced team, but after two years of questionable decisions, they are trending in the right direction.


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