Boo Nieves has been earning his keep

boo nieves

When the Rangers started the season with an abysmal 4-7-2 record, it was easy to point the blame at the entire roster and the front office. The biggest issue, one that drove many mad, was Alain Vigneault’s insistence of going with 11 forwards and 7 defensemen on multiple occasions. The Rangers had kids in the system waiting for a call up, but we were seeing a sub-optimal lineup dressed on a nightly basis.

Boo Nieves was called up, and there was an immediate balance in the lineup. The club was able to roll four lines and three pairings regularly. Anthony DeAngelo was sent to the AHL to make room. Both moves should have been made sooner, but better late than never. Nieves, who along with Brady Skjei represent the remaining 2012 draftees with the Rangers, had an impact beyond the lineup balance, and has been a pleasant surprise.

I say surprise because Nieves is already 23 years old, and was at the point of no return in his Rangers tenure. He had the tools, but we weren’t really able to see what he could do because the Hartford Wolf Pack had been terrible for a while. A top-six role wasn’t in his future, so he’d need to succeed in a more defensive role.

Succeed he has, at least thus far. Despite getting shelled with 60% defensive zone starts, Nieves has managed to be a positive impact on puck possession (51.8 CF% / 5.1 relative CF%, third on the team among forwards in both). It goes well beyond mere Corsi, as Nieves actually leads the forwards in xGF% at 56.78%.

Those percentages are great. But when you dig a little deeper, you see the defensive impact. Nieves is second on the club (among forwards) in limiting shot attempts against with a 50.86 CA/60 (Interestingly enough, Paul Carey leads the club at 50.09). Now here’s the crazy thing: He leads the team in xGA/60 at 2.29 –by a wide margin, too– and is second on the club in xGF/60 at 3.00. Nieves, simply put, has been nothing short of great in his first 14 games (small sample size alert).

To bring us all back down to Earth a little bit, he is sporting an exceptionally high PDO at 109.54, with an expected PDO of 100.94. What that means is we should expect a few more goals to be scored against while he is on the ice, which makes sense because he hasn’t been on the ice for an even strength goal yet. That won’t last, of course. This shouldn’t really be a shock to anyone.

The fun thing with Nieves is that even when those goals against start coming, his on-ice process has been stellar, so we shouldn’t see much of a dip in his performance. It’s not like his scoring is masking poor play, he is playing great hockey right now. The Rangers needed balance to the fourth line, and Nieves has brought it.

"Boo Nieves has been earning his keep", 5 out of 5 based on 20 ratings.

62 thoughts on “Boo Nieves has been earning his keep

  • Dec 7, 2017 at 7:15 am

    I would like to see some more offense from Boo, but he has been reasonably good for what we ask of him!

  • Dec 7, 2017 at 7:22 am

    Check out the team record since he became a regular. You don’t have to be a superstar to have an impact.

    He quietly does his job every night. The Carey stat surprised me.

    • Dec 7, 2017 at 8:40 am

      You really think Nieves is the reason the Rangers started winning? I’m not buying that.

      • Dec 7, 2017 at 9:14 am

        It gave AV the confidence to roll 4 lines and have a real defensive 4th line, which is putting up big minutes in the D zone. Is he the only reason? No. Is he an important part of the turn-around? I would say yes.

        • Dec 7, 2017 at 9:21 am

          Agree 100%.

        • Dec 7, 2017 at 11:45 am

          They definitely weren’t freeing up any top 6 lines when Mika was healthy. I want a real 3rd or 4th line that’s defensively responsible and trusted at the same time by AV. Someone like Hayes was always there to support with either production or shutdown role. In Step/Brass days there was always a good 3c/4c and right now I barley even see Boo on the PK which tells me that AV doesn’t trust him much.

    • Dec 7, 2017 at 6:41 pm

      Sal, I would rather say, and it is based on a larger sample size of past history, that Jesper is a big reason for the turn around. Boo is benefiting from that.

      Now, if you put Lettieri with Boo and Fast then I think that you really have an effective 4th line.

      Calling E3!! Calling E3!!

      • Dec 7, 2017 at 6:53 pm

        You rang? 🙂

        Again, there isn’t anyone out here that I know of that has any idea whatsoever whether Lettieri is ready to play in the NHL, has the skill set to play on the 4th line, or would have any chemistry whatsoever with Fast and Boo.

        What we do know is that Lettieri has had his moments where he has played well on the AHL level, and other moments where he been putrid.

        But what we do know is, that in recent games, the 4th line as currently constructed, with our Piñata of the Month Paul Carey as part of that line, has played well. So again, if it’s working, and Lettieri in fact is NOT a good fit for this, then why would any sane organization change what is working?

        If Pink Floyd was a Rangers fan, he would no doubt say to you….

        “Hey! Richter! Leave them kids alone!”

        • Dec 7, 2017 at 6:59 pm

          LOL, thumbs up for the Pink Floyd reference but then thumbs down for the post in general so it’s a “wash” lol, Just kidding, I gave it to you.

          It’s working because of Fast. So put 2 guys that can skate with him and I bet the results are even better. But we won’t find out.

          Will we…

          • Dec 7, 2017 at 7:40 pm

            I’m glad I earned the “thumbs up”. I thought the PF reference might tip the scales! 🙂

            I love Fast and think he is so underrated and some out here have no appreciation for how valuable he is. But to say he’s good enough to make an entire 4th line work all by himself is more credit than even I think he deserves.

            When will we find out if the other options are better options?…..when they prove they can actually play consistently well on the AHL level, which so far they mostly have not. Weren’t you killing AV for not playing Trainwreck Tony? The Hartford coach seems to have even greater concerns, based on how little he’s used him.

            This is a process my friend. Even best case scenario, the chances any of our marginal NHL/AHL players would make a discernible difference on the Rangers at the moment is slim at best. Better to let them develop, get better in the “A”, then bring them up when they truly are ready to help. Whenever that is.

            • Dec 7, 2017 at 7:56 pm

              Fast is driving play on that line, no question.

              Ever see Boo play when he was at Michigan? I have, one game live, very underwhelming for an NHL prospect.

              Ever see Boo play at Hartford? I have not, but the stats are underwhelming for an NHL prospect. In fairness, he did have injuries. But it’s not like he dominated anyone there.

              So now he gets to play on a line with Fast and is much better. Coincidence? Maybe. I don’t think so. I think Fast makes anyone he plays with, specifically on a 4th line, play much better.

              • Dec 8, 2017 at 12:21 pm

                Gorton and company must be kicking themselves for letting Lindberg get away for nothing…….replaced by Booooooo

        • Dec 7, 2017 at 11:10 pm

          If you don’t eat yer meat, you can’t have any pudding. How can you
          have any pudding if you don’t eat yer meat?
          You! Yes, you behind the bikesheds, stand still laddy!!

          Being that there was a Floyd mention, I couldn’t help myself

          • Dec 8, 2017 at 6:02 am

            You’re a funny guy, and obviously old like me, lol.

            • Dec 8, 2017 at 12:34 pm

              Lol, I guess it depends on what is considered old.

  • Dec 7, 2017 at 8:04 am

    So what you’re saying is they recalled a rookie and he is playing well enough to have a positive impact. So AV continues to give him playing time?

    This does not compute!!!!!

    • Dec 7, 2017 at 11:36 am

      Let’s all give AV a good, long pat on the back! It only took the failures of relying on the corpse of Andrew Desjardins, relying on the corpse of Adam Cracknell, and/or just plain starting nobody in their places and rolling 11 forwards, for the coach to get desperate enough to give a 23 year-old rookie with four years of NCAA experience and parts of two seasons of AHL experience a real shot to stick.

      See! He loves the kids! Don’t fall for the fake news that says otherwise!

    • Dec 7, 2017 at 6:41 pm


      sorry my friend, couldn’t help myself, lol

    • Dec 7, 2017 at 7:13 pm

      Spozo speaketh the truth. But the AV haters don’t want to hear it! 🙂

      BTW, good article by Dave here, except for one thing. For the second time this week, Dave couldn’t help himself and just had to take a gratuitous shot at AV that he did not earn or deserve. Earlier this week, it was the Brooks article when Dave claimed Brooksie called out AV, even though AV wasn’t even mentioned in the article and in fact Brooks called out NO ONE. Today, it’s the false assertion that AV “insisted” on going with 11F/7D.

      Insisted? First of all, going with 11F/7D is hardly an unusual decision. John Cooper, who is hailed as a genius, has done that many times, as have many other coaches. The reason AV did this was because the forward depth available to him and most importantly provided to him by the front office were not appealing options at that time. Combine that with the fact that the Rangers were trying to get DeAngelo going, and the 7D approach was a more than reasonable approach at that time. Unfortunately, Trainwreck Tony proved that he is not an NHL option at the moment (apparently, he is barely an AHL option), and they (the organization, not solely AV) realized that they needed to make a move. I doubt seriously AV “insisted” on anything. He played the best options available to him at that time, which almost assuredly the front office supported.

      Could they have started the season with Boo? Perhaps. But again, Boo was no sure thing. He had a very uneven year last season, and many wondered if he was going to make it or not. It was more than reasonable for the Rangers to give Boo a few games in the “A” to get his game going, then call him up—which is what they did. And that call was not likely AV “insisting” on anything. It was undoubtedly a collaborative decision between the coach and GM.

      But I forget….all our AHL options are clearly NHL ready and clearly ready to contribute right now to this team. Let’s recall each of them one at a time, give them each five games a piece, and give all our wonderful kids a fair chance to play—whether they are ready or not.

      Then once that’s done and we’ve fallen into the Metro basement, then we can all celebrate!!!!!!! 🙂

      • Dec 7, 2017 at 7:16 pm

        I’m not an AV hater, the coach earned my disrespect all by himself with his incompetency.

        That’s not my fault or any one else’s fault that calls him out for his unreasonable decisions.

        • Dec 7, 2017 at 7:42 pm

          Incompetency? The record says otherwise. And the extension and raise Gorton gave him screams the opposite even louder. May we all be this incompetent! 🙂

          • Dec 7, 2017 at 7:57 pm

            Just about every contract in sports is an overpay vs the results. Including coaches and management. Not all, but most.

      • Dec 7, 2017 at 8:57 pm

        The 11F/7D was a product of the Fast injury and poor lineup construction. Both of which were not AVs doing.

        The funny thing about this article is that it was published 48 hours after another article that bashed AV for not trusting rookies.

        Sadly BSB is turning in to a site that just makes things up to fulfill their narrative.

        • Dec 8, 2017 at 6:05 am

          Oh, I don’t know, I think I’ve pointed plenty of specific examples to support my argument.

          If the coach is not going to be blamed for direct playoff game losses then what do we need a coach for? Because then the coach has no impact on game results.

          • Dec 8, 2017 at 8:04 am

            Wasn’t talking about you. It was meant more for the staff.

            • Dec 8, 2017 at 8:10 am

              oh, carry on, lol.

              And for the record, I don’t hate the coach, I am frustrated by him.

  • Dec 7, 2017 at 8:22 am

    Boo is playing great they should of thought of it sooner this is a fourth line

  • Dec 7, 2017 at 8:25 am

    Now if we can only get Sam to stop using both his names making it completely impossible to tell if its Boo or Buch he’s talking about…

    • Dec 7, 2017 at 8:41 am

      From now on,Cristoval it shall be

      • Dec 7, 2017 at 10:48 am

        I bet only his mom and the cops call him by that name!

  • Dec 7, 2017 at 8:39 am

    Boo is an effective player in the role he is in. He worked hard and learned the ropes down in the iron league and it helped him make the next step to the NHL.

  • Dec 7, 2017 at 8:44 am

    I’m not very impressed with Nieves. I posted on previous threads that I think Letteri would have been the better option to call up. I believe he would add more offense and has a much higher ceiling than Nieves. Nieves is nothing more than a low end 4th line center and that’s it. He doesn’t have the offense to be a top 3 center.

    • Dec 7, 2017 at 8:54 am

      Who cares about his potential moving forward? The guy is playing very well right now as a 4th line center. You can’t teach speed or size, he’s got the athleticism to be a productive player in a 4th line role. Not every player needs to be a star—sometimes a player who understands their role & how to fulfill it is worth a ton to a team’s structure.

      • Dec 7, 2017 at 9:02 am

        What he said

        • Dec 7, 2017 at 9:08 am

          All I’m saying is you can get a 4th line center who does everything Nieves does and adds some offensive punch. I think Letteri would be better and showed more in the preseason.

          • Dec 7, 2017 at 9:19 am

            Nieves is 6’3”, 200 lbs, a great skater who is producing right now in the NHL. I’ll take that over the smaller Lettieri’s theoretical NHL production any day. Additionally I think Lettieri will be a 3rd liner due to his potential offense, and the Rangers don’t need a third-line forward right now. What they need—and what Nieves is providing—is an athletic, big 4th-line center whose priority is defense & puck possession.

            • Dec 7, 2017 at 4:10 pm

              I agree and disagree with you both.

              I agree that Boo is doing an adequate job and has assisted and made better the NYR lineup right now.

              Where I disagree with is:
              “and the Rangers don’t need a third-line forward right now.”

              The Rangers need an overwhelming number of NHL forwards on all four lines. Is Lettieri that player? Maybe. He hasn’t been given the chance. What I will say is, in general terms is this:

              If you have the chance to deploy player ‘A’, who produces at the rate of a good 3rd line Winger/Center on the 4th line because your top-9 forces you to play that player in the bottom 3, over player ‘B’ who produces at the rate of an average 4th line Winger/Center, then you do it because you now stronger four lines. The era of 1 scoring line, 1 mix line, 1 checking line, 1 goon line or any combination thereof is over.

              If Lettieri could come in and provide the same level of play plus additional offense to the team, then it’d be foolish to “wait” for a top-9 position to open. I don’t think that’s what you were saying

            • Dec 7, 2017 at 7:09 pm

              MC, Just curious , which line center ….1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th line do you not want an athletic, big center whose priority is defense & puck possession.??????
              If you had 3 better centers than Zib are you saying that you would play Boo as the 4th line center over Zib?????
              Point is that YOU PLAY the best players and if Letteri is a better player than Boo ….he should play….every coach wants a 4th line center who can provide offense…..

              • Dec 7, 2017 at 7:20 pm

                But again…obviously, the Rangers (not AV specifically but more likely Gorton and Drury) do NOT think Lettieri is NHL ready. But of course, we always overrate all of our “stars” down in Hartford and obviously upper management is wrong yet again….I mean, look at how they miscalculated with McIlrath? Oh wait…..well, then there was…..who now? What young players in the Rangers system left the team and went on to shine elsewhere in recent memory.

                STOP overrating these kids who are still developing and who obviously aren’t ready yet. In a month…two months…next season. Perhaps. But today, they simply are not better NHL options.

  • Dec 7, 2017 at 10:47 am

    Boo has been alright and that is a good thing.

    But, back on the farm: 19 year old Lias Andersson has 7 goals and 13 assists in only 20 games playing against the men in Sweden’s premier league. 18 year old Filip Chytil has 5 goals and 12 assists in 15 Wolfpack games. Those are your centers of the not too distant future.

    • Dec 7, 2017 at 11:49 am

      I’m not necessarily advocating for this so much as exploring the concept –
      and I would disclaim that by no means are Andersson and Chytil sure things in my mind, just yet – but, it is intriguing to consider that, perhaps two years from now, the center group could be Mika/Chytil/Andersson/Nieves. That would be a pretty cost-controlled young group for a window of time. Lots of “ifs”, of course…but if Hayes could bring back a nice return via trade at some point, and if those middle two develop to the higher end of their potential…that could perhaps be a pretty decent turn of events given where the C depth is today. (To note, I like Hayes and think too many Rangers fans give him too much grief for not performing well enough offensively given how he is deployed…but in terms of a trade, he’d be the odd man out in this scenario.)

    • Dec 7, 2017 at 12:01 pm

      Pete, your numbers are off. Lias has a 7-6-13 line in 20 games and Chytil is 5-7-12 in 15 games. Those numbers are still fine, all things considered.

      • Dec 7, 2017 at 12:18 pm

        Thanks, seems the NHL.COM article confused me the way they wrote it.

  • Dec 7, 2017 at 11:29 am

    Boo has been doing a great job since being called up from the A. He’s been doing his job as the teams 4th line center. Ok guys he’s our 4th line center. To those who would love to see more scoring look to the top nine for that not our 4th line center. If others would play/do their jobs like Boo has for 60 minutes the Rangers would be in better shape. To the Boo haters screw u.

    • Dec 7, 2017 at 11:51 am

      People are allowed to have different views when it comes to players.

  • Dec 7, 2017 at 1:38 pm

    Call it the Boo factor, we had the Avery factor a few seasons ago

  • Dec 7, 2017 at 2:31 pm


    I largely agree with you. The one thing that needs to be noted is, he has not been on the ice for any 5×5 goals against, which is not likely to continue. He’s been on ice for about 33 High Danger chances for but also been on the ice for 29 HD chances against. So, the goalies are facing some very tough chances against when he’s on the ice. For what he is, he’s been effective.

    This however; “Despite getting shelled with 60% defensive zone starts”. I imagine you’re using it in context I hope, because ultimately zone starts don’t matter. This looks extreme, because it’s only accounting for 38 out of 63 offensive or defensive zone starts. It completely discounts the other 50 neutral zone starts the player had. If we factor those in, his defensive zone start percentage plummets to 33%. On top of all of this, when we add in the 60 additional shifts he’s played in, the DZ% drops to 21%.

  • Dec 7, 2017 at 4:16 pm

    Boo and fasth play well together on the fourth line where they belong.

  • Dec 7, 2017 at 6:48 pm

    Boo has been ok, Fast has been superior in his play. Boo should thank him.

    But should the 4th line be playing at the expense of benching the Vesey-Hayes-Nash line for the last half of the 3rd period? I will let you all answer that question.

    This past game, Boo and Buch had the same 5 on 5 minutes. That’s effing insane.

    Give Boo credit, I give Fast more credit for driving that line, but let’s not get hyperbole on how Boo has turned the team around. Fast has more to do with that, quite honestly.

    And THAT’s why Fast should be on the 4th line, because he can DOMINATE the opponents he’s on the ice against and create massive mismatches. The Pens’ game, case in point.

    But for God’s sakes, should they be stealing 5 on 5 minutes from the top 6? No way.

    • Dec 7, 2017 at 7:15 pm

      You said,”This past game, Boo and Buch had the same 5 on 5 minutes. That’s effing insane.”
      If this is true I want AV fired ASAP!!!! What Lunacy!!!
      I am sure some AV loving idiot will defend that.
      Maybe Buch got lost on the bench……
      At least he didnt bench Buch again.

      • Dec 7, 2017 at 7:18 pm

        Look it up in the boxscore my friend.

        • Dec 7, 2017 at 7:20 pm

          13 minutes each.

          Buch had 14:19 total minutes with 1:19 in PP time and Boo had 13:05 in total minutes with 1 second in PP time.

          • Dec 7, 2017 at 7:32 pm

            Please, this is absurd. Buch is still developing as a player. He’s getting sheltered minutes. He’s not that good defensively yet. The 4th line did an excellent job in the last game. And the Rangers are the hottest team in hockey since 10/31 but of course Captain Hyperbole wants the coach canned. Which obviously makes perfect sense in some bizarre world out there I’m sure.

            You guys are WAY too obsessed with ice time. Game situations dictate these things. And it was clear in the post-game, AV wasn’t happy with what he saw from the Hayes-Nash-Vesey line in that game. The 4th line, which has played well recently, was particularly good in that game. So they got more minutes. I know….SHOCKING development.

            Have beer boys and chill out. 🙂

            (Oh BTW, my future head coach of the Rangers, Coach Q, who I’m sure everyone would welcome here in a heartbeat, has been shifting lines around and juggling ice time like nobody’s business. Trotz has been doing the same in DC. This is SOP. But it’s a mortal sin when AV does it! We win the game against the defending SC Champion…and we STILL kill him! I can’t wait until the next dire 1-2 game losing streak to watch these boards explode!). 🙂

            • Dec 7, 2017 at 7:42 pm

              Buch is, let me see how I can say this, only one of the best 5 on 5 forwards that we have. The stats support that statement.

              Once again my friend, you just assume that the coach’s way is the right way. And once again, it’s not.

              In almost every game this year, Buch’s minutes at even strength is less than one of the stiffs on the team. Almost every game. There’s something fundamentally wrong about that.

              As for his defense, if they have the puck, then that’s the best defense they can play, no?

              • Dec 7, 2017 at 7:43 pm

                Coach Q has Cups.

                Coach V has cups.

              • Dec 7, 2017 at 7:47 pm

                I do agree he should play more. I do find that curious. I just don’t agree that this is an “AV thing” that some of you make it out to be. I suspect you would see usage like this for a young player with a lot of coaches. And obviously, if Gorton thought Buch or any of the other youngsters were not being played enough, there’s no way AV would be retained as coach.

                But yes, would I like to see Buch out there more? Definitely. Perhaps as the season goes on that will happen.

                Right now….we are winning. How about giving the coach some props for keeping the team together during the tough times and helping to guide them to the extraordinary streak they find themselves on right now. I guarantee you if a coaching change had been made and this had happened, Dave, you and many on this blog would give most of the credit to Coach “Savior”, whomever he would be.

              • Dec 7, 2017 at 7:50 pm

                True enough on Cups vs cups. But Q has had Kane and Toews and Keith and Hossa. We have had nobody like those guys.

                My point is that I bet even Q would be managing this Rangers roster mostly the same.

              • Dec 7, 2017 at 8:00 pm

                Look, all hockey coaches “juggle.” We get that.

                And let’s acknowledge that Coach Q has Kane, Toews, Keith, Crawford, etc. The Rangers have nothing close to that collective group.

                I just do not feel that our coach maximizes his assets well.

              • Dec 8, 2017 at 12:31 pm

                Keenan just got fired by his Russian team……let’s bring Mad Mike back to the Garden!!! Mike has a CUP!

              • Dec 8, 2017 at 2:51 pm

                Yeah…..that sounds like a REAL good idea. NOT!

                No NHL team will touch him with a ten foot pole, and for good reason. He’s impossible to work with, players and management grow tired of him quickly, and the fact is, what did that Cup do for him moving forward? ZERO. He may very well have had the worst post-Cup coaching record in the history of the sport.

                Thanks but no thanks.

  • Dec 7, 2017 at 10:20 pm

    Why NYR didn’t trade for Phil Kessel 2 years ago? NYR was on the list of 8 teams Phil Kessel wanted to play. Phil Kessel was making 8 million a year, but NYR should find a way to fit him under the salary cap. Instead NYR traded for Yandle.

  • Dec 7, 2017 at 10:41 pm

    You as a NHL team don’t have too many chances to get a game changer like Phil Kessel, especially in the playoffs. Instead NYR traded Anthony Duclair for Yandle and then signed Stepan, a 2nd line center, for a big fat contact of 6ys 39 million.

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