Some Friday Thoughts

shattenkirk vegas rangers

It’s the Friday of a long weekend, but it’s supposed to pour all weekend. That’s the definition of the upcoming Rangers season. There’s a lot of promise, but boy are we expecting them to stink. Ok, that’s a stretch, but after dealing with errant emails and tweets, I’m giving myself some freedom. Anywho, it’s the last day before September, which is the month hockey returns to us.

1. I know we are expecting the Rangers to stink, but I saw a betting line that had the Rangers around 75 points at the over/under. Bet the over on that all day, everyday. This forward group is still solid, and Henrik Lundqvist is still in net. This team probably won’t make the playoffs, but they aren’t a sub-75 point team in a 3-point-per-game league.

2. Dare I say that there is still a shot this club makes the playoffs? Remember when the Yankees were kinda in the playoff hunt in 2016, but still sold their assets anyway? I get the impression this Rangers team is going to be a little like that one. They have young talent to get excited for, but have enough skill where they can sneak up on you. I still expect them to sell at the deadline for #TheVision, but still this team isn’t as bad as folks make it out to be.

3. You guys know me, I love how we can better assess and predict team success with the stats that folks much smarter than I have been able to create. But one area I think we are woefully lacking is tying stats to a system, and using that system/stats connection to predict how a coaching change or a change in system impacts expectations. I’m not saying David Quinn’s defensive changes are going to magically make this team elite, but I’m expecting significant improvements in zone exits, defensive zone coverage, and cap control. Alain Vigneault’s offensive system was able to create prime chances regularly, so I wonder if there’s going to be a decrease in that type of offense this year. Perhaps more steady cycling and puck possession? Still, I’m intrigued to see where the stats have the Rangers this year.

4. A healthy Kevin Shattenkirk will have a massive impact on this team as well. He was on a 40 point pace on one knee in a terrible defensive system. Two knees and a system that doesn’t promote anarchy should stabilize the blue line.

5. Everyone is looking at Brady Skjei as a risk. I am not. I, for one, am looking forward to seeing Skjei-Shattenkirk as the top pairing. Good lord the passes. All the passes. Give me the passes.

6. I wonder what Lindy Ruff’s role will be?

7. That picture up top look familiar? It should. It’s the game that saved AV’s season. Yea, I’m a troll.

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19 thoughts on “Some Friday Thoughts

  • Aug 31, 2018 at 9:31 am

    I’m looking forward to seeing skjei skate. that boy skated the river, folks. ba’lee’dat

  • Aug 31, 2018 at 9:46 am

    Great optimism!
    My concern is the following; who will replace Grabner, JT and Nash on offense? That is 99 points of offense. I feel it is too much to expect Chytil and Andersson to do more than 45 points combined. Can we expect the KBZ line to add 15 more points? I would hope so. The still leaves a 39 goal deficit. Now, Hayes being in a contract year, you would expect him to move up on the point charts, but is 15 more points for Hayes doable? To me, that is asking a bit much.

    Maybe we can cut our goals against way down. But is it possible to cut them by 0.4 goals a game? Wow, that would be amazing, especially with some real young defenseman.

    Our forwards need to get comfortable in a new system. Hopefully that doesn’t take 30 games to do so. Same holds true of our defensive schemes. New players, new coaching, new systems.

    Can Hank be the old Hank? No one knows.

    I do agree we should get 75 points, but afraid that it is only 26-29 or so wins.

    • Aug 31, 2018 at 10:02 am

      That’s keeping it in perspective, very cogent analysis, Sal. Have to hope the young players take big steps forward.

      • Aug 31, 2018 at 10:08 am

        Thanks. Not trying to be negative, and really hope the kids shine, but we need to let these kids grow into their roles. To me, the best case scenarios is that they all learn to play the system and by game 50, really understand how to play and compete in the NHL. Add a superstud next year to take some pressure off of the kids and let them become young stars in the league at their pace.

        Our defense needs to be better, plain and simple.

    • Aug 31, 2018 at 11:47 am

      It may even be worse: since they scored 71 goals last year.

      Namestnikov might contribute 16 goals, Spooner 14. I guess that Andersson and Chytil should be at least Vesey level (to keep), so that would be another 30 goals. Which leaves about 11 goals that should be divided around the rest of the team. Where I see a bit of a possibility for Kreider, Buchnevich and Zuccarello. Although that doesn’t leave any room for regression in the goal department, possibly expected for Zibanejad and/or Hayes (although I expect Hayes to do better pointwise).

      So basically it could be worse, but doesn’t necesarily have to be a lot worse.

    • Aug 31, 2018 at 2:36 pm

      If Chityl and Andersson can’t score more than 45 points between them, they belong in Hartford. Seriously, 40 points is a reasonable expectation for two Paul Carey playing a full season with limited playing time. Desharnais scored 28 points in 71 games (as many as Nash did in 60).

      I expect at least 35 each from those two — if they make and stick with the club. My guess is that we have should less concern about their scoring than their defensive play since the latter is probably more troublesome for kids than scoring is.

  • Aug 31, 2018 at 10:13 am

    KHL starts this weekend. SKA(Shestyorkin and Rykov) plays tomorrow and Traktor(Kravtsov) play Sunday.

    Not sure I would say stink. But I don’t have high expectations either. We have some talented forwards, Some exciting talented youth, Some reclamation projects, a suspect D and a new coach. It’s a prickly environment. We probably lose a lot of close games. I don’t think we get blown out, I just think most teams in the league are better than us. Even teams like Buffalo and Arizona may finally leave the cellar and push for play off spots. As painful as this sounds it will serve us well to have a top 5 pick next year with the talent in the 2019 draft. But I do think we exceed 75 points.

    As for the D. A new cohesive system can bring stability which is a plus to begin with. I am not worried about Skeji. I think he will bounce back. And a healthy Shattenkirk will certainly help. Deployment will also be very big here. I would like to see Smith and Skeji together. They had good chemistry in the 2017 playoffs. I think Pionk and Shattenkirk could work well together and then DeAngleo and Staal or Claesson and see how those pairs work out. I’d like to see Hajek and/or Lindgren make the team, but if they can play more in Hartford and not burn a year of ELC when we likely won’t be competing I’m ok with that.

    As for Ruff…well I guess we will see, but that is a real head scratcher.

    • Aug 31, 2018 at 10:20 am

      I would like to see Ruff be the “eye in the sky”, feeding info to the coaches based on what he observes during games. He knows NHL systems, and could he a great help to these young coaches by explaining what other teams are doing and what we are (possibly) not doing.

      • Aug 31, 2018 at 10:45 am

        Either Ulf, Beukeboom, and Ruff gave AV the same exact advice, as evidenced by the same exact systemic and fundamental problems existing on the ice across all of their tenures, and all despite various changes to the on-ice personnel…or AV was still calling the shots on D pretty much entirely. The latter seems far, far more likely to me. I can’t say for sure that Quinn and his staff will be better, or operate differently…but I sure hope so. I highly suspect that AV’s ego far outweighed any type of tangible examination of his system and being receptive to input from assistants, so my hope is that Ruff wasn’t actually a major problem or cause of the problems last season, just was kind of ignored by AV when it came to any choice in systemic style or deployment. If that is correct, then perhaps Ruff will be just fine in whatever role he is in so long as he has the freedom to voice ideas/opinions/evaluations and the coaching staff is receptive to them.

        That said, I personally would have not brought Ruff back if I was GM. I would have treated the coaching staff last season like I was tenting a building and fumigating for cockroaches. Just to be safe. On the flip side, obviously all I have to go by is speculation, and I tend to assume that Gorton bringing Ruff back for any capacity is kind of like him saying, “We realize you weren’t a major part of the problem”, so hopefully we can trust in that judgement that Ruff will be a positive influence despite the embarrassing tire fire that was the defensive system and deployment last season.

        • Aug 31, 2018 at 3:36 pm

          Or maybe people here have got it all wrong.

          Ignoring the last year for a moment and what do we see during AV’s tenure. The Rangers were consistently a good +/-, poor puck possession team. The systems were designed to do that very thing. +/- decides games; Corsi is a correlating indicator. For some systems, it no doubt tracks well, but if the system is designed so that it won’t track, we do we care about possession at all.

          Meanwhile, the Ranger defense was stingy over that period, so that wasn’t a problem either. And it was best when Hank was not in net, so the notion that Hank was bailing out a bad defense is ridiculous.

          The big defensive problem was this. To do his job well, Hank wants (needs?) to see the puck. AV deviated from the defense he wanted to play to please Hank. So consistently, Hank has faced tougher shots than other Ranger goalies with the advantage that he sees the shots better. The impression one gets then is that the goalies is really good and the defense stinks, but that is absurd.

          Maybe Quinn will create a system that meshes better with Hank’s thirst for vision, but make no mistake, the system the Rangers used under AV was a good one.

          NOTE: This is an old story. Not so long ago, goalies did not want shots blocked at all. Deflections and lack of vision were an issue. Some saw themselves as the defense and just wanted the defense to let them do their jobs. So you can easily have a coach want one thing and the goalie another.

          • Aug 31, 2018 at 6:41 pm

            Ray, you and I have been over this before. You know that I don’t consider +/- a reasonable indication of anything that is actually happening on the ice, and I know you do. We’ve sparred about net-side vs. fronting, as well. What you cannot deny is this: AV has had a blessed career (outside of his stint in MTL) when it comes to having a generational talent in net. Luongo is HOF. Hank is HOF.

            What I take issue with is the fact that you apparently think it is mere coincidence that AV’s best years coaching also happened to mysteriously coincide with the peak/near-peak arc of these goalies. I take issue with the fact that you seem to believe the system takes priority over the most important single player on the ice. Goalies are like pitchers in baseball, except they don’t go out only every fifth start.

            The Rangers are 6th in the league, in total, in GAA, since Hank took over for the most part in the 05-06 campaign. How many truely elite defenders have the Rangers had during that span? None. As much as Girardi and Staal were warriors who we all loved, and as much as we may revile the “glory days” of this Rangers generation being touted as “defensively sound” up until a few years ago, and as much as we all loved McD…none. Not even close.

            Man-overload, as deployed by AV, only works in two scenarios: 1. In video games, and 2. When you truly have a fleet of six defenders capable of a two-way game.

            The proof is in the pudding. The system was trash, and AV’s ridiculous deployment decisions only exacerbated the problem. This franchise owes a lot of their success over the past decade and counting to Hank, and to say otherwise is literal blasphemy.

            • Aug 31, 2018 at 9:34 pm

              Stop. I am talking about team +/-. No one can deny that team +/- equates to success. The supposed value of possession stats is twofold. Being more accurate as they have larger sample sizes, they might predict future team +/- better than current +/- information. Also, for a bizarre reason, people seem to think that team Corsi is the sum of its parts and individual Corsi is important.

              But the AV Rangers clearly outperformed their Corsi consistently and one simply must acknowledge that this isn’t luck. As Dave points out, possession stats ignore systems and that is why they can often be trash.

              Obviously Luongo belongs in the HOF. But Lundqvist was a great goaltender 2005-2013. AV saw flashes of that former HOF-worthy tender, but he did not have a HOFer any more than the guy who coached Brodeur his last few years did.

              Numbers don’t lie. Hank was not as good as Talbot 2013-2015. He was not as good as Raanta 2015-2017. He was not as good as Georgiev 2017-2018. The notion that he has somehow masked problems is just absurd. Surely Talbot’s 2013-2014 numbers make clear he had a HOF defense in front of him.

    • Aug 31, 2018 at 2:22 pm

      After 40 minutes of Malmo-TPS, i’ll write 2 things:

      1: Lauri Pajuniemi is just a guy. On the 4th line, okay skater, okay fighter for pucks, got a double minor for boarding that was dirty AF and if Euros fought, someone would’ve done one on him. Another wasted pick.

      2: Going cack-o for Kakko would be well advised. Dude is a hoss on the puck, skates hard, reads the play well. If he wasn’t stuck with Korpikoski as his center, he might be dangerous.

  • Aug 31, 2018 at 11:34 am

    why r u so negative about the rangers ?? i don’t get it.

    • Aug 31, 2018 at 12:14 pm

      Negativity, Positivity and Reality are 3 different approaches/outlooks. We lost some proven talent and are adding some unproven talent. This usually adds to the negative outlook.

  • Aug 31, 2018 at 12:03 pm

    Shattenkirk is overrated…bad defensively ….Was Awful with the Caps
    Brady has a ll the tools
    Hopefully not behind the bench
    Haha typical Rangers F up

  • Aug 31, 2018 at 1:12 pm

    One aspect to consider regarding likely wins is whether the Rangers will even try to maximize their wins this season. If truly devoted to player development they may role out 4 lines that don’t have a traditional checking/grinding line to give Andersson, etc. better experience (ie not playing him with McLeod). Also they may play their 4 lines more evenly than most teams.

    Similarly on d if Hajek, ADA, Pionk etc. make the roster they may role with them for development purposes and let them learn from their mistakes without killing them ala AV.

    A benefit of this approach would be that they would get a higher draft pick. This team still needs another elite prospect and the best, perhaps only, way to get one is to get a top 10 draft pick again. So while it is not an outright tank it is an approach that can accomplish the same thing.

  • Aug 31, 2018 at 3:44 pm

    “I wonder what Lindy Ruff’s role will be?”

    I suspect you are not nearly as curious as Lindy is. Quinn really does not know the pro game that well and Ruff does. He can stand beside Quinn and give him all sorts of insight and information. In a relatively short amount of time, I expect Quinn will find him an invaluable resource or a pain in the rear. In the latter case, I expect Ruff to be transferred to some other role in the organization, a role that serves the whole organization and not the current Ranger team.

  • Aug 31, 2018 at 4:09 pm

    I think all this talk about Quinn installing a great defensive system while AV’s was a total tire fire is overstated a bit. I was certainly a big detractor of AV and he did become Nixonian at the end but he was, at least by his record, a competent NHL coach. His last hurrah was a wreck but we don’t know yet if Quinn is a competent NHL coach. It may be more important that he be strong in player development than actually be the coach that can lead us to the promised land. Entirely possible that he will find Ruff and his experience somewhat useful. Also I suspect Ruff has a relationship with Sather that offers some him protection in the organization.

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