Suffice it to say, last year was a disaster for Ryan McDonagh. He struggled mightily, and seemed unable to carry an injured Dan Girardi who really shouldn’t have been in the lineup. There were many theories behind his struggles, from no support from his partner (whether it be Girardi or Kevin Klein) to no support from forwards. But part of the onus did fall on McDonagh, who was one of the many players caught running around in his own zone last year.
This year, we have seen a Ryan McDonagh like we have never seen before. We’ve known what he can do in his own zone, but he’s never been one to really rack up the points. McDonagh has nine assists so far, with an eight-game point streak. He’s been eating minutes at all strengths, and looks like the McDonagh of old.
Here’s how McDonagh has fared with his fellow defensemen this season. He’s been paired only with Girardi and Nick Holden here, and you see that both pairs are close to the median line, while McDonagh alone is more towards the “good” part. The pairing with Holden is a little on the scary side, but as of right now it looks like McDonagh and Girardi are able to play big and capable minutes together.
In terms of pure CF% (either raw or adjusted for score, venue, and zone), McDonagh is one of two players –Adam Clendening being the other– above the magic 50% line. This might be a tad misleading, since the Rangers have been ahead for so much of the season that the numbers are skewed, but adjusting for score minimizes that a bit.
Perhaps the best part about McDonagh’s play is his influence on his teammates. Using the above chart, we can see that McDonagh has a positive influence on his teammates. To read this, the purple is where a teammate is when playing with McDoangh, and the red is where a teammate is without him on the ice. Most of the purple boxes are up and to the right (more towards the “good” part) of the red boxes, which shows positive impact.
It is worth noting that the two primary people McDonagh sees ice time with are Holden and Girardi. Both red boxes are on the “bad” side of the middle line, while both purple boxes are on the “good” side. That means McDonagh carries these players. The good thing here is that Girardi seems to be able to go along for the ride, while Holden seems to stay put.
A resurgent Ryan McDonagh was one of the key needs for this Rangers club this season. Without it, the team was likely doomed to repeat the same mistakes as last season. With it, the Rangers can hold their own defensively while the forwards carry the load. McDonagh has been a monster this year and is very clearly carrying the blue line to success. This is what you expect of your best defenseman and your captain."The resurgence of Ryan McDonagh",