chris kreider

The Rangers are a weird team this year. I’ve been saying that a lot, but it’s especially true. We are used to strong even strength scoring and a poor powerplay. But this year it’s in reverse. The Rangers can’t score at even strength but the powerplay is one of the best in the league.

Alain Vigneault lives and dies by the counter attack at even strength, and so far this year it has been a relative failure. It’s not for lack of chances, either, as the Rangers are 6th in xGF/60 in the league. It’s that they haven’t finished at the rate they usually do.

At even strength, the Rangers have just three players with at least five goals (Hayes, Grabner, Zibanejad). Through 21 games, only three guys have five even strength goals. That is not good.

The good news, at least from a statistical standpoint, is that the even strength concerns may not last much longer for a few guys. Chris Kreider (2 ES goals) is shooting just 5.13% at even strength. Rick Nash (4 ES goals) is shooting just 8.16% at even strength.

The anticipated increase from Kreider and Nash will likely come as Grabner (14.29%) and David Desharnais (2 ES goals, 14.29% shooting) fall back to Earth. When you factor in ice time, that is actually a net positive for the Rangers.

Even strength play will dictate future success, especially as the number of powerplays start to decrease as players get used to the “new rules,” or as the refs stop calling them. Rest assured, they won’t be calling this many penalties in the playoffs. So either way, even strength play needs to improve.

It has certainly been a weird year for the Rangers thus far. It seems like we are in bizarro world. But the good news is that some of the big names are due for some positive regression. We may witnessing the dreaded middle, but these Rangers aren’t that far off from competing for a Cup.


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