The Quinn system is starting to take hold: A look at the Rangers’ trends over the first 15 games

One of the more fascinating aspects of this season, at least to me, is how David Quinn’s system is going to take hold with the Rangers and what it will mean for some of their underlying numbers. Looking at raw percentages certainly tells one story, but as time progresses the earlier games may skew the numbers, and may not tell us where the team is headed.

That’s why I’m a big fan of trends, and how a team has been progressing throughout the season. Sean Tierney keeps track of all this through his many easy to follow charts. His work is invaluable.

The first trend I like to look at is rolling shot differential. The better the shot rate trends, the more the Rangers have the puck. The more they have the puck, the less the opposition can score. You know this, though.

The first thing that jumps at me is how quickly the Rangers dug themselves into a hole early on. However they are trending in the right direction. This isn’t a game-by-game analysis, it’s a rolling five-game average, so you won’t really see big jumps here. What you want to see is a steady trend upwards. Right now the Rangers are hovering in the negatives, and there was a decently sized dip in November. Before that though, they were trending upwards, ever so slowly. By the end of the season, you want to see this in the positives.

This actually mimics what the Rangers’ shots-for chart looks like, interestingly enough. As the Rangers figure out how to generate more sustained offensive pressure, something that will come over time, I’d expect this to improve, especially given how they are trending with shots against.

The Rangers hemorrhaged shots against under Alain Vigneault, and the DQ system was supposed to change that with its simplicity.

The Rangers were struggling early on, but the system is beginning to take hold. The shot rates against started very high, which again was somewhat expected as the Rangers transitioned and broke old habits. The Blueshirts were peak bad in early October, but have steadily brought down the average shots against. This is very promising, and perhaps a sign that the system played a much larger role than initially thought in the AV Rangers.

There’s a lot more we can get into when it comes to trends, but sticking with the above two for now. The Rangers have seen significantly better defensive play as time has worn on. This bodes well for the future, as stopping the bleeding was the first major hurdle. The next one is shot distance and shot quality. But, baby steps.

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  • There was no doubt that AV’s “system” sucked, so the stats proving it are not surprising at all.

    The main theme of Quinn’s coaching is to be a tougher team to play against and to tighten up on the D side. I think that it is safe to say that the team is trending in the right direction on both points.

    I think that it is also safe to say that after 10 games, the line up is more stable than the shuffling DQ did in those 10 games.

    I have a lot of mixed feelings right now. I go to the home games and I cannot root against them but by the same token we know that this team is not good enough to contend or even make the playoffs.

    The record is also a reflection of Henrik, again. It’s always about him. If not for him, the team would not be in the games they eventually won, for the most part. The Rangers are not dominating anyone on the ice, but they are listening to DQ about going to the net. Look at where the goals are being scored from, in general, around the opponents’ net. That is great to see.

    • Tony…12.27 against CBJ, looking forward to going to my first game at the Garden since 2010, looking forward to coming back to NYC for the holidays…..I agree many of the players did not care for AV and his system.

      • Nothing like pure talent, but teaching is important and is a barometer that can be extremely effective…I like Quinn a bunch and firmly believe that he could be a great coach at this NHL level….Time will tell…….

        • I like him too, but complaining that the kids don’t get enough minutes when you have control over that sounds stupid.

          And before you say it, meaning that DQ needs to put the kids into “the right minutes” during a game, my answer is BS, you play them on regular shifts, that’s the development.

    • We don’t know what the stats mean actually. Roughly hockey is 75% PDO and 25% possession, not the other way around. AV’s system was designed to create a good PDO team with poor possession and it was successful until the last year. The fact that the possession numbers were poor told us nothing frankly, no matter how often Dave beat the drum.
      From an analysis perspective, we are getting some picture of how good a possession team this is, but we don’t know very much about PDO. For PDO, fifteen games of data is nearly worthless and, unlike with AV, we have no historical norm which we expect to approach. One can estimate a little using for example career shooting percentages of veterans, but it is mostly a crap shoot.

      Unfortunately, I expect the Quinn Rangers to not be the extraordinary PDO team the AV Rangers were, so hopefully they can offset it with being a much better possession team.

      • It’s pretty obvious that DQ driving home the point that he wants his players to drive to the net is due to the lack of elite talent to snipe, meaning there are no elite shooters to beat goalies on their own. There are no Jagrs or Ovis to consistently beat goalies from 20 feet out.

        Where were all the goals scored on Monday? Basically in close to the net except for DeAngelo where there was a screen giving Price fits so he couldn’t see the shot.

        Last year the Rangers were about transition, that’s how they scored their goals. This year it should be about more forechecking and driving towards the net to score goals. Neither team are or will be possession type teams.

        The flaw in probability is that it does not account for shot quality. So if the Rangers get 40 SOG but they’re all softballs from the outside that goalies handle easily, then that does not make the Rangers unlucky if they do not score more than 2 goals.

        I get it, shot quality is also supposed to even out over time, but that’s dependent on the quality of the shooters. The Canes were possession darlings but were one of the worst goal scoring teams in the league.

        It’s all about shot quality and the shooters themselves. Yo can get garbage goals but you also have to have the hands to react to rebounds and put backs.

        • Probability used properly DOES account for shot quality. That was my point that hockey is mostly about PDO and not mostly about possession. The percentage of shots that go in is the most critical factor and that is no doubt a function of shot quality. And it is simply not true that shot quality evens out over time.

          Here is how statistics work. The more data you collect, the more accurate the numbers are. The numbers start out almost random and gradually converge to what they should be. People think in terms of convergence to the mean, but that is not strictly right. If Derek Jeter were hitting .280, you don’t expect his batting average to go down because the mean of all hitters is below .280, you expect it to go up because the mean Jeter averages higher than .280.

          Under AV, the Rangers had good shot quality because they were a transitional team and they gave the opposition poor shot quality, at least in the early AV years. So it was reasonable to predict that they would remain so. Change the system and many of the players and who knows where we end up.

          • My issue with these underlying stats is that the stats are only as informative as good as they are.

            I find it really hard to believe that, with 10 skaters on the ice at the same time, skating at lightening speed during play, and with players on and off the ice during shifts, that somehow all these players are accurately tracked every second they’re on the ice. For possession, shots for, shots against, with and without certain players.

          • I agree to a large extent. Team stats inform, but breaking them down to players is extremely dicey. It does not matter if you use plus-minus or Corsi. The problems are the same. There are some players who immediately leave the ice when Crosby or McDavid or McKinnon gets on and there are others who go out there in the same situations. Obviously the first group will have better numbers than the second, all else being equal. Numbers tell you how well players respond to the situations they are in, but you need to factor in usage.

            And to some extent I trust good coaches. I always like Dan Girardi, even while he was being bashed. He was assigned an important role on good teams by more than one good coach. I think he was still a very good player last year. On the other hand, this year he is trailing Braydon Coburn in ice time and is -1 on a very good team. My conclusion is that Cooper doesn’t trust him so much this year and he likely is not longer a quality defenseman.

          • Oh — and in support of your point, there are scoring opportunities – both shots and goals – which occur because a player makes a bad shift. The shot or goal is charged against his replacement who had no control over the situation and the offending player gets off scot-free. And this sort of thing does not even out because bad judgment is not random.

  • Coach Q getting his message across. Tough to break old habits. Team is fun to watch but season is young for everyone.

  • You have to hope that MGT’s plan of having Quinn come in to develop the young players roots them into the style the rebuild will eventually end up at, a winning club… with years in the hunt!!!

    I don’t completely agree with Richter1994 regarding Hank and how his play effects these stats. Sure his play has and will continue to give the team W’s VS. L’s as well as how it plays into the teams psyche during games, allowing them to be in more games then not, but the stats show the team progression towards the Q-System and that overall they are improving… which is a good thing!

    Shame we can’t honestly see stats on how this all would look without the Swedish Goalie… But hey, maybe this team’s drive and play could make a not so Swede net minder into a better one overall too?

    I am happy to see the X Factor being spoken about more and more, that this team looks pumped to be playing together, thats a Q factor that translates into FUN HOCKEY TO WATCH…..


    the future is bright, and this article shows its getting brighter!

    you gotta love it so far baby!


    PS, not sure anyone mentioned this, but that last win was even more special better the HABS!!!!!

  • Team is playing a competitive, snarly type of hockey. They won’t beat many teams on talent, but they can win with effort. Quinn is trying to instill this mindset. The two things missing are a better PP and PK. If they can move into the top 1/3rd in the league in both categories, we will be tough against any team. This might require the acquisition of a stud.

    • It would be awesome to get Panarin for the PP and for everything else. The PK issues are running through the same unit that’s always out there for a goal against.

  • I like the focus on getting the forwards to the net to create traffic and chaos in front of the goalie. They have tightened up defensively despite having youngsters on the squad and that is a good thing. They might not get as many break aways and odd man rushes as they did under AV’s system, but for the moment Quinn’s more conservative system makes sense for the team and its young players. Winning isn’t as important as learning how to play the game properly at the moment, but they have had some nice wins recently and that has to be good for team morale.

  • This is nothing new but the defense is bad… the only players showing adequate metrics are Skjei and ADA . Man do I really love Pionk but he is a liability at 5×5. Smith and Shattenkirk seem to be on the ice watching goals slip past Hank. And Stahl is what he is. Pionk needs more time to mature, and this D needs an infusion of talent, Miller and Nils are, unfortunately, years away. Hopefully, Hajek, Ygor and Lindgren can be part of the answer. The forwards are playing good hockey and are fun to watch.

    • It does seem that ADA and Skjei work well together. Both Pionk and Tony will make mistakes in the defensive zone while they learn, but there seems to be a lot of potential there. Learning to be a defenseman is one of the hardest jobs in hockey.

    • Now I suspect a bombardment of thumbs down for what I’m about to say, but I could see Pionk evolving into something like a very poor man’s Leetch-lite. Leetch was smallish and relied on positioning and playing the angles properly, not that his defense was bad when he first got to NY but it certainly was the weakest aspect of his game. In time though he evolved into a solid defensemen, defensively … while still retaining all the high octane offense.

      Again, I’m not trying to suggest Pionk will ever be Leetch good … but give him time to mature, to build up strength, to work the angles better. It’s a big jump from College to the NHL, especially for free agents … but I think he’s got the basic hockey intelligence to continue improving. His upside could easily be a 50-60 pt d’man.

  • I think the team is playing a lot cleaner under Quinn than with AV and these trends look good. Having said that, if Quinn gets his deployment right and leans on Skjei/Shatt; Claesson/Smith as his top four pair with Staal/TonyD as the third pair, I bet it would improve. Pionk is a black hole out there at 5v5. Similarly Quinn needs to lean on his most talented forwards and stop trying to get “grit” out there with McLeod or even Lettieri (both who are horrible). Play your best players!

    Again, many folks were predicting us to have a shot at Hughes. I don’t think so. My guess was we would be in purgatory where we don’t make the playoffs but we are not bottoming out. This was based simply on the fact that I thought our forwards were above average to good and that our goaltening would be great. If the defense is not a complete tire fire, then we have a shot at the playoffs, unless Gorton firesales.

    We’ve been playing pretty good hockey so far this year. We got unlucky early on as well with reffing and some other calls.

    • Ideally the six best defenseman would play. That would be Skjei, Shattenkirk, Smith, DeAngelo, Pionk and Claesson with McQuaid and Staal in the press box, but since we know Staal will play no matter what he should be on the bottom pair. He tanks whoever he’s partnered with.

      I also thought the same thing. I didn’t think the Rangers would be a bottom 5 team. They still have a great goalie and some good players on forward and defense. That’s why I think you will only see Hayes, Zuccarello, McQuaid and Spooner traded. They will then go after a big free agent next summer like Panarin.

  • Not set in stone depending on injury recoveries, but according to Cyrgallis it looks like Buchnevich will take Zucc’s place while Zucc is out, Howden will again be with Vesey and Fast if Fast is healthy, and Andersson will center Chytil on the left and Lettieri on RW. Chytil was comfortable playing with Andersson in the past so perhaps the kid will finally net a goal. Looks like McLeod sits next game.

    • Maybe Quinn is reading BSB because just the other day I stated that I would want to see McLeod out and Andersson centering Chytil and Lettieri. From my mouth to God’s (Quinn’s) ears. lol

      • I was pretty sure that you were influential Tanto but I apparently did not realize the extent of your clout! πŸ™‚

        It will be fun watching the kid line.

      • LOL, Yea Tanto, I’m sure Quinn is sitting by his computer, constantly refreshing the BSB site, wordering when you will post some more sage advise. πŸ˜‰

  • I’m prefacing my comment with the fact that I love Hank, he’s a surefire 1st ballot HOF … in the last few years I might have questioned the efficacy of paying a goalie $8.5m but there’s no denying Hank is a great goalie. That said, I haven’t noticed a real drop off in team performance when backups like Talbot, Raanta and Georgiev have played. So when I see comments that try to indicate the overall team performance is good simply because Hank bails them out all the time, I’m prone to see it as a bit hyperbolic.

    Hank does his job, well … but there are other goalies out there that pretty much do the same thing and for less money (aside from Price), other goalies stop the puck with basically the same frequency, other goalies make some fantastic saves, and other goalies win their teams’ games they shouldn’t win.

    • Antti Raanta posted a .930 save percentage last season and is posting a .929 thus far this season. But, he was hurt early on last season before coming back and having a great season, and he just went on the IR again a couple of days ago. I loved Raanta while he was with the Rangers and I hope he is out only a short time. But his injuries just go to show you that Hank has been quite durable most of his career while also being a top notch net minder.

      • Durability and consistency are the pillars of athletic greatness. It’s a shame most fans underrate them both. Can you imagine how many nagging, unreported injuries a player in their 14th NHL season must have played through? Let alone the reported ones.

      • No doubt, Hank is a warrior … just another reason I have no issue with him hanging around a few more years. In all honesty if not for Georgiev I would probably like to see them sign Hank for another year or two where he either plays 50 or so games, or splits with, or backups Shestorkin (depending on play) — of course at a more moderate salary. It would be great for Shesty to have Hank and Benny tutor him.

        As it is I would like to see Georgiev get at least 30 games — there’s no reason to add unnecessary wear and tear on Hank while this rebuild unfolds. Hopefully as the season heats up they let Georgiev get 2-3 games in a row while letting Hank recuperate for more than the odd night off.

  • Quinn may be the best of the coaches folks in NY seem to like. He preaches a harder game and a bit of the old black & blue NYR’s that Torts played. And, like AV, he still wants his players to use skill and it’s not all about just blocking shots. To top it all off, he seems like a media darling who’ll prob be one of NY’s most eligible bachelors pretty soon.

    I really think the NYR hit a home run with DQ.

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