The Rangers are a weird team. From the players to the coaches to the GM, they are both great and terrible at the same time. The good news it that we can begin to quantify things this year, as 20 games is usually when we can begin seeing what the Rangers truly are, where they will improve, and where they might be over achieving.
*-All stats are at even strength.
Let’s get the easy stuff out of the way. Based on just raw goal totals, the Rangers a horrendous defensively and league average offensively, at least at even strength. However just looking at goals for and against doesn’t tell the whole story.
The Rangers are shooting just 7.76%, down from their last few seasons of close to 9%. So their even strength goal total will go up eventually. Their SV% should go up a few percentage points as well. Keeping both of these in mind, we should see the Rangers improve. This also really illustrates how much the powerplay has carried this team.
This allows us to dive a little deeper. The Rangers have not been a good possession team for quite some time. They don’t rely on quantity of shots, they rely on getting in close and getting passes across the slot line to create goals. This isn’t a surprise anymore. It’s a style of play that leaves them ranking low in CF/60, but usually higher in xGF/60 and SH%.
Which brings us to the xGF numbers. The Rangers are a top offensive team in the league. They generate quality chance after quality chance. Couple that with a SH% that will surely rise back to around 8.5%, and you have a team that will continue to score. If they ever round out that center depth, they could become even more dangerous.
The one thing that seems to be eluding the Rangers is team defense. I covered this extensively a little while ago, and I won’t rehash it here, but the summary is that the players have changed, the assistant coaches have changed, and that leaves the system as the only constant. There’s only so much the team can do when their coach won’t adjust.
But I digress.
If the team defense –and yes, it’s team defense, not just the six guys playing on the blue line since the entire team has been bad– ever gets figured out, then the Rangers could be a force to be reckoned with. That’s a big IF, though.
It’s not all bad for the Blueshirts. They are simply a one-dimensional team at the moment. Their offense has the ability to be elite. However their strengths are being overshadowed by their awful team defense. Usually we ask Henrik Lundqvist to carry the team to the playoffs, but even he has had to compensate for poor defense, and it’s showed in his play. Can the offense carry this team? Maybe, but through 19 games, it doesn’t look like it.