Disclaimer: As we did when we evaluated Skjei, recent performance matters when discussing lineup decisions. Small sample size plays a role in a lineup decision from night to night, and if a player is struggling, especially a youngster, a night off might help. Again, very rarely do we use small sample sizes, but context matters, and for this specific purpose, we need to look at single game samples and trends.
Much like when Brady Skjei was scratched, there was a lot of confusion about the recent decision by David Quinn to scratch defenseman Tony DeAngelo for Brendan Smith. By most accounts, DeAngelo has been one of the better and more consistent defensemen. Yet he can’t seem to stay in the lineup regularly. He wasn’t given much of a look to start the season, only found his way into the lineup due to injuries, played pretty well, and then wound up a healthy scratch.
We did the same exercise for Skjei when he was a healthy scratch, so may as well look into why DeAngelo is a healthy scratch. DeAngelo didn’t have a Skjei-esque xGF% dive, but it did go from 86.52% against Dallas to 47.69% against the Isles to 17.34 against the Flyers before he sat. Not exactly a huge run of poor games, but he went from excellent to bad pretty quickly.
That’s one of the issues with DeAngelo: He’s wildly inconsistent. For every monster xGF% game, he has one that is under 35%. The good games are more frequent than the bad, but some steady performances from the youngster would be nice. That said, the Rangers’ defense is defined by inconsistency, so this shouldn’t be much of a surprise.
Everyone’s favorite whipping boy is Marc Staal, whom we’ve stated did not deserve to come out when Skjei was scratched. Doing a comparison of him versus DeAngelo in the same timespan, Staal went from a 65.44 xGF% (Dallas) to a 55.40 xGF% (Isles) to a 31.05 xGF% (Flyers). So he’s been declining too, however this is apples and oranges since they don’t play the same side. Worth nothing, though, that the Flyers game was a train wreck for everyone.
The fair look would be at Neal Pionk, since he and DeAngelo play the same style and pretty much have identical production. Pionk’s xGF% in those three games was 43.95 (Dallas), 50.35 (Isles), and 33.52 (Flyers). So while he isn’t good, there isn’t enough there to justify him coming out of the lineup instead of DeAngelo.
Kevin Shattenkirk’s numbers were pretty terrible too (43.67, 46.79, 14.15). But let’s be real, after his one game scratch he likely isn’t going to get scratched any time soon. So to get Smith in the lineup, DeAngelo and his tanking effectiveness over a few games was the logical choice. A healthy scratch here and there can help.
Stats via offsidereview.com."A look into Tony DeAngelo's recent stint as a scratch",