Over the weekend, coach David Quinn shocked a lot of people when Brady Skjei was given the night off as a healthy scratch. He doubled down on that scratching on Monday, as Skjei was a healthy scratch for the second straight night. There were questions abound –and rightfully so– but DQ has yet to give a detailed explanation. He’s not required to, of course, but it would be nice, right?
Skjei is not having a good start to the season. That we know. Then again, outside of Fredrik Claesson and Kevin Shattenkirk, no Rangers defenseman is truly having a good start to the season. Every single one of them has a glaring flaw to their game/production that is difficult to ignore. Shatty, Claesson, Adam McQuaid, Tony DeAngelo, and Neal Pionk have all seen time as a healthy scratch. In fact, the only defenseman to not be a healthy scratch is Marc Staal. But I digress.
When it comes to Skjei, he was having a relatively poor past few games. His xGF% from his prior six games (admittedly an arbitrary number), working backwards from his last game were 23.12 (NYI), 47.98 (VAN), 23.25 (CBJ), 49.08 (DET), 42.51 (MTL), and 23.64 (BUF). So, let’s just go with Skjei was pretty bad for the most part, with some sprinkling of decent. That stretch is what likely led to his scratching.
It is worth noting that when discussing lineup decisions, recent performance must be accounted for. Over that stretch, which again is what likely led to his scratching, Skjei wasn’t good. Skjei, over the course of 82 games, is one of the best defensemen the Rangers have. But over those six games, he was not.
By comparison, Staal’s xGF% in those games were 56.22, 48.56, 62.58, 56.63, 74.18, 69.78. So the cries to have Staal sit are a bit biased. It’s based on the last name, not on the production over that period of time.
Let is be known: Over those six games leading up to Skjei’s scratching, Staal was miles ahead of Skjei.
Scratching Skjei doesn’t mean he isn’t a part of the future. He is certainly more a part of the future than Staal. He was playing poorly. Staal has been playing somewhat well, so he hasn’t been the scratch. That’s not to say there weren’t times when he deserved to be the scratch, but at this particular moment in time, he did not. Skjei did.
Skjei will be back in the lineup, and it may be tonight. This is a blip, nothing more.
Data from http://offsidereview.com.