The Rangers Are Hopelessly Mediocre, And It’s Not Going to Get Better

Hate Week continues here at Blue Seat Blogs, and as Dave mentioned yesterday, the Rangers fully deserve it.  They are 2-5 since the bye week.  They are banged up, in part due to their own mismanagement of injured players.  They are running their 35 year-old generational goaltender into the ground in the name of desperation (“every point matters!”), then benching their third-leading scorer in a must-win game.

When this season began, the Rangers started so poorly that most fans and observers believed that they would bounce back.  The Rangers did, and put together an impressive streak that got them into playoff contention.  So who’s to say that this isn’t just another blip on the radar?  I give you the following (apologies for the shameless self-promotion):

49 games is a large enough sample to draw some conclusions about a hockey team, so let’s start with the most basic stat of all: wins.  It’s easy to be deluded by the NHL’s current loser point system into thinking a team’s record is better than it actually is.  The hard truth is that the Rangers have lost more games than they have won this season.  The last time the Rangers posted a below-true-.500 record was in 2009-2010, when they lost in a shootout to the Flyers on the final day of the regular season and missed the playoffs.

Of course, judging a team solely by its record is a fool’s errand, given the prevalence of luck and its effect on results in hockey, even across a large sample of games.  That’s why, as much as the haterZ will complain, things like CF% and xGF% are more reliable indicators of future success.  Unfortunately, neither metric gives us reason to believe the Rangers will turn things around this season.

Since the beginning of the 2014-15 season, the Rangers have plummeted in terms of their 5v5 shot attempt share, and this week they finally hit rock bottom: 31st in the NHL in terms of CF%, with a measly 46% of the shot attempts at even-strength.  This is on par with the Arizonas and Buffalos of the world, and it’s quite honestly unacceptable, if not utterly predictable.

For about 6 weeks from November through mid-December, the Rangers were trending upwards in terms of their xGF%.  Knowing that AV’s system and style prioritize quality over quantity, this made sense.  The Rangers steadied the ship somewhat, and were creating lots of quality chances (though giving up plenty as well).  But they were unable to crack the 50% mark, and have started to slide back into the bottom-third of the NHL by this measure as well.

Lastly, the Rangers PDO of 100.74 shows that, 49 games into this season, we shouldn’t expect results to change too much.  There is no shooting regression coming to the rescue like it did in November.  As a matter of fact, it’s possible that things could get worse, if the Rangers goaltending slides back from elite-level to merely excellent.

The 2017-18 Rangers might be the most compelling evidence yet that there needn’t be a debate over analytics vs. the eye test.  The dispirited, disorganized, dysfunctional hockey that we watch nightly is reflected perfectly in the numbers detailed above.  On most nights, the Rangers will lose.  And they deserve to.

The Rangers are who we thought they were, and it doesn’t appear that this current group of coaches, front office staff and players are capable of doing anything to turn around what is starting to look like a lost season.

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  • Whether it’s a blowout either way, a one goal game, a win, or a loss, it’s the same game over and over again:

    Rangers give up the most high danger chances each game and it’s whether the goalie saves them or not that determines the result of that particular game.

    Rangers out shot the Ducks, true, but got out chanced (high danger chances) 14-6, the more important stat. Shots that float nicely into the opposing goalie’s bread basket are basically useless.

    So bad streaks, good streaks throughout the season so far, and here we are, with the Rangers at around .500. With even an above average goalie, as opposed to Henrik, the Rangers would be stuck towards the bottom of the league, as Henrik accounts for at least 1 goal less against vs. average NHL goalies.

    Poor Henrik. He deserves better and the team should make it better starting now.

    • If the Rangers are smart they have a real opportunity at this trade deadline to get some real good young talent. An article on another blog listed teams and prospects that could be targeted: Dallas, Nashville, St. Louis, Winnipeg.

      • Add in the Leafs and TB.

        If this is done right, then the Rangers could have 4 first rounders next year. And still re-sign Grabner and Nash of they choose to.

    • Walt…..agree totally with one caveat….a new unknown head coach who can make his mark with young players. A rebuild with AV as coach and we will be watching the same passion less team . This is on the GM now.

    • Yes Walt it’s the natural order of things. But for some reason this organization has to force things patch things. In the end no stud superstar or two just middle of the pack year after year. One cup in 75 plus years. Be smart make the trades McD, Nash, Grabner, Holden, Henrik, Staal and Zuccarello. Be smart get back young high skilled talent along with several number one picks. Nash and Grabner could be signed back later. See what the Yankees have done. A new approach is needed. The old core run had been over. I’ve said this over and over. Please seriously some players with edge. To many nice guys on this team.

        • Yes it is Walt. The time is right to make this happen. The old core gave us great hockey and just miss bringing home the cup. Patchwork isn’t the answer time to move on as you have stated.

  • Rob, the lost season lament ignores what I believe to be obvious: Gorton was rebuilding on the fly, hoping for the best, but knew the team to be flawed from the outset, so he was looking beyond this season. That is why all the speculation earlier in the season about who the Rangers should target for help at center also made little sense to me. They were not in win now mode. Their recent injuries have just made them even more flawed than they were.

    Once you accept that they never were going anywhere in the playoffs this year and that they were rebuilding, then I believe that your mood will brighten a bit as you focus on the young players and picks they might obtain at the deadline. It would seem that the injuries have just forced their hand to make their moves sooner.

    • Peter

      You could be onto something with your post. I hate to say this but maybe the injuries were a blessing in disguise????

    • Agree 100%. Gorton was hoping to get a round in the playoffs, while rebuilding. The All Star week should be interesting. Next years team will be completely different.

    • Could also explain why now… in the middle of the season they finally shut Shattenkirk down… No need to chance something worse.
      They called the season…

  • I was so excited when Groton took over, my hope was he would have control of this team but with old man Sather sucking on his cigar and AV only really caring about himself…it is easy to see that Groton is just a puppet. I knew this day was coming and now it is here…they have no depth to weather the injury storm. Even if they do sell…I highly doubt we will get the correct prospects. We have swung for the fences again and again and missed time and time again. Dolan thinks the Rangers are great because the Knicks are run so bad. Teams like Tampa, scout quality hockey people, like Stevie Y and Cooper before they become household names…we go for the old has been name.

        • Jury’s still out on “Groton” (also a town here in MA). He screwed up a couple things (ex. Eric Staal) but you could see that, because they were still on the last vestige of contending. But he traded Stepan and while it may not yet appear to have been a good trade (regardless of TonyD, Lias Andersson is still a big wild card) it may have tipped the hand of a rebuild.

          All comes down to what Gorton does next. Maybe the mid season tank job is forcing his hand or maybe it is a relief in a certain way so that tough decisions are not quite as tough.

          Thinking about Nash and Grabner, if I were a youngish contender (like say, the Bruins or Leafs) I’d be all over those two. Sort of like 1a and 1b.

  • sorry to read & agree ,1st time here looking for answers where there are none
    This team never had a chance , not investing picks or talent to risk whats coming out next year…Hopefully with tutoring of the 2 #1’s getting groomed
    and the $$ freed from Nash Holden Grabs (resign nash Grabs aftr season )
    Zucc ? nah maybe 1 more yr along with Mac ….
    Staal gets bought out ?
    next yr had the mind set when they never even tried to replace Steps

    Darharnais ,Dejardins were the big deals along with draft picks helping from start
    on the O side ..we know the D additions
    se ya this summer for F A signings & team build outs happening

    this is gonna get ugly if you ask me …..Tkt holders sold a billl of goods that wasnt there ….never had a shot at this season…

  • If we’re lucky, and the front office is smart, the coach and most of the coaching staff should be fired after tonight’s game in San Jose (save Allaire!). The team has a week off for the All Star break, which will be the best chunk of time to introduce a new system that they’ll get before next season.

    Pull the band-aid off tonight. Give a new coaching staff 32 games to pull a few signs of life out of this roster. AV is not taking this team anywhere.

    If, for some reason, the new staff is a mess, the Rangers can ditch them after this season and try again during the off-season. Fire AV now and they have 2 chances at finding a good bench boss by the start of next season.

  • Sadly the bottom line is this team’s biggest problem is they never put up 100% effort…they barely put up 70% effort on a nightly basis. The team has plenty of talent that many times is improperly deployed by management whether on the ice or sent to Hartford. In what world should Paul Carey being taking a space from any prospect like Vinny Letteri? Carey’s been OK, but he’s a career AHLer. Nick Holden on the top pair? Seriously? Brendan Smith benched repeatedly for Steve Kampfer? These guys are not your future.They trade for DeAngleo and he gets 5 minutes to prove himself then off to Hartford. Why did we trade Stepan for him again? Talent that never shows up for 60 minutes. You can count the number of games this team actually played 60 minutes this year on 1 hand. It’s time for bigger changes. I sort of feel like I am watching the movie Bridesmaids and waiting for The Rangers to hit rock bottom. We haven’t yet…

  • Stop the hate! We are having a rough stretch. We weren’t as bad as we played in the first 15 and we weren’t as good as we played in the next 15.

    Yes we are mediocre, but you cannot lose Kreider, Hayes, and Shatty for long stretches and Grabner & Staal for a few without this having an impact.

    Come back from the ledge, enjoy the all-star break and let’s see what happens after. We have some time to either come together or SELL SELL SELL.

    Relax, this is a typical down patch in an NHL season.

    • Sal I agree 1000%. Teams go through this all the time. We knew we weren’t that great before the season started and now we’re missing a lot of guys that would make a difference too. Let’s hope whatever moves are made are the right moves

      • I am not saying we aren’t playing bad, but a 5 game winning streak changes everything. If instead we lose 5 in a row, then it is time to sell assets and build for the future.

        It may require us unloading 6 players. If we do go with youth, AV is not patient enough of a coach. And yes, he does give kids a chance, but I do not want him to find another “Carey” and play him.

    • I am on the fence, but part of me agrees 100%.
      The team is a few points out of 3rd in the division, hurting yes, but a week long break is here. Maybe there are moves to get this team into the playoffs and with the right touch and timing something decent happens!

    • Sal, the rangers stunk with those players and stink without those players.

      Statistically speaking, the Rangers have been near the bottom of every stat relating to goals/shots against the entire season. And last year and the year before that.

      Blow it up.

  • I have no complaint about the JT benching. As Rob points put the numbers don’t lie. His CF% is bad on a bad CF team. He doesn’t shoot and he will have way less goals than a year ago. And, he appears to not be that smart of a player. As AV said the other night, “I have seen enough”.

    So, those who wanted to pay him term and money have seemingly disappeared into the wordwork.

    I have been harping on this for a few seasons now, ever since my own eye test in an afternoon game at the Garden against the Icelanders where he lost his man THREE times in a very short timeframe and never saw the ice again.

    I don’t care if he’s the third leading scorer. It’s 29 points! 11 of which are secondary assists. 29 points! He’s the 119th leading scorer in the LEAGUE!

    And, I forgot to mention he has ONE playoff goal in his career. To be honest, for a first rounder, he’s pretty much of a bust.

    • Miller is no superstar at this time; I think we can all agree on that. He’s also far from an NHL “bust”, no matter what round he was taken in. His turnover was damn ugly the other night too, no doubt. That said, Holden commits at least one of those types of turnovers a week, it seems…can’t recall the last time he was benched for the rest of the game immediately following one. AV’s typical sliding scale of accountability.

  • Should have dealt for MacKinnon like I suggested in the off season, but does anyone listen to me? Now it’s too late, with him lighting up the league.

  • There’s on old saying (Everett Dirksen? not sure). There are lies, damn lies, and statistics. You can say lots of things with numbers, many of which are simply not true. As a mathematician, I find it irksome that people through numbers about without any real grasp of what they mean.

    Rob’s original post is just such a flight of fantasy. Drop the numbers, Rob. You don’t know what you are talking about.

    What is true. Rob is unhappy and mad. The Rangers are basically a .500 team so far. The PDO is slightly, but not very disappointing for a team with elite goaltending. Things should not get much better (discounting injuries). Of course, injuries should likely cause some decline. End of story.

    • There’s another (much more) popular phrase: “Numbers don’t lie”. This post is confounding to me in almost every way. I do agree with you that injuries generally cause some decline…the rest, though? Hoo boy. You went Full-Ray on this one.

      What statistics that Rob used have left you flummoxed? Would you like to explain why and/or how so? What counter-points would you like to offer that prove why you do not agree with Rob?

      • More popular does not mean wiser.

        Let’s start with with assertion that the Rangers are 31st in the league in 5 v 5 CF%. What does this prove? I will tell you. It proves that 5 v 5 CF% is a crap statistic that should be disregarded.

        Year after year after year, the Rangers have been weak in 5 v 5 CF%. Yet they have made the playoffs year after year. They have even been to the Finals once and the semi-finals twice. The Corsi perspective is that the Rangers have been a crap team for years whose success has just been luck.

        This year, Rob would have us believe that the Rangers are no better than Buffalo or Phoenix and that any success they have had is due to their goaltender – despite the fact that Hank was actually poor the first ten games of the year and has had (e.g., the last game) a few clunkers since then). And PDO, which takes the goalie into account isn’t even remarkable. [I am not criticizing Hank. He is having a good year on balance, but he is not transforming a Buffalo-level team into a .500 team.]

        People here bandy about advanced statistics like they have some idea what they mean. For simplicity, I will refer to advanced stats as Corsi. Then I will explain the stats if anyone cares.

        There are three kinds of stats: W-L, +/-, Corsi. There are two defects with +/- which I will choose to ignore. They sidestep PP, PK results and they are skewed by PK goals and empty net goals. The Latter problem is serious, but could be corrected simply by using the available data and changing the calculations.

        Now W-L is paramount. That is all that matters. The problem is that there is a small data set and we get sample size error.
        +/- is closely tied to W-L and I don’t think anyone has really seen any real downside; it has smaller sample size error, but the error is still problematic, especially when applied to individual players.

        Corsi has much less sample size error, but it does not determine +/-; it is merely a coincidental indicator. And the errors are somewhat consistent, it seems to me. The Rangers have never been designed to be a good Corsi team. They are designed (successfully or unsuccessfully) to be a good +/- team. So it is foolish to worry about their Corsi.

        In general, if you have five years of data, both Corsi and +/-, the best way to analyze teams is to ignore the Corsi numbers completely. We have enough data so that the small sample problems disappear.

        And if you don’t understand my last paragraph, don’t quote stats and pretend you know what you are talking about.

        • “Year after year after year, the Rangers have been weak in 5 v 5 CF%. Yet they have made the playoffs year after year. They have even been to the Finals once and the semi-finals twice. The Corsi perspective is that the Rangers have been a crap team for years whose success has just been luck.”

          Raymond, you gotta be kidding me with this post. So, regardless of the fact that regular season wins come because of the goalie as opposed to the team in general, the stats are baseless?

          The bottom line is that the 2013-14 team was actually good because in addition to the basic core of the current team, that team had Stralman, MSL, and a less sucking G and Staal.

          After that? The goalie has done it for them, regardless of the team’s performance or lack there of in front of him.

          I’m worried about you my friend.

          • A goalie so great he was outperformed by his backup for a four year period.

            Seriously, Lundqvist is good, but he is not beyond belief good. He doesn’t transform Phoenix into Tampa Bay.

            Reasoning is not hard here. Corsi is based on more data and so is less subject to sample size error than +/-. +/- measures goals, which win games whereas Corsi measures shots, which don’t. So one metric measures the right thing but roughly while the other measures the wrong thing more accurately.

            If you have only three games of data and nothing else to go on, you would be a fool to use +/-. If you have five years of data, you would be a fool to use Corsi. Things maybe balance out around fifty games.

            We have years of data indicating that Corsi simply does not do a good job of measuring the Rangers. And this has been true regardless of who the Rangers put in net.

            common sense here please: Corsi measures the wrong thing. It is perfectly reasonable that for certain systems and certain players, it will lead us to incorrrect conclusions. corsi is like judging basketball players by height. You get the answer quicker, but a smart gm still doesn’t trade Jerry West for Swede Halbrook.

            And Dan Girardi is still a good defenseman!!!

  • You are what your record says you are. Little top end talent , weak center depth, half an ahl level d core…

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