The Rangers are currently dead last in the Eastern Division with a 1-3-1 record. There is panic in the air after (checks notes) 5 games. Yet there isn’t real reason to panic. It’s rare to hear that after a 1-3-1 start, but it’s true. The Rangers are better than their record. If they continue to play the way they are, then they will go on a run.
Good process is something we preach here. It’s why we were down on Alain Vigneault in those final years. It’s why we started recognizing the big turn that came in December last season. Process breeds results, if you’re patient enough.
CF%: 52.25 (8th)
xGF: 9.08 (14th)
xGA: 8.5 (15th)
xGF%: 51.67 (13th)
SV%: 90.99 (23rd)
SH%: 7.09 (19th)
PDO: .981 (23rd)
Summary: *Much* better process. Real shitty luck. SH%/SV% will rebound. If process holds, they will go on a run.
— David Shapiro (@BlueSeatBlogs) January 25, 2021
The big thing to recognize is that the Rangers are doing well in their underlying numbers. This is huge movement from last year, where they had a historically bad start before turning it around from December through March.
The Rangers have actually been doomed by bad luck. They are shooting two full percentage below their rate last year. This is mostly behind slow starts from Chris Kreider, Mika Zibanejad, and Artemi Panarin. This won’t last.
Granted losing Filip Chytil for an extended period of time will hurt. But injuries happen.
A few bad luck plays
The Rangers are two bad goals and a bad defensive play away from being 3-2-0. Remember that Ryan Lindgren slid the puck into the net in the first game against the Penguins. Then in the second game Igor Shesterkin got beat on two very weak goals. Those are rookie mistakes.
The process in both of those games was very good. But three weird plays cost them three points. These aren’t everyday occurrences, as Shesterkin isn’t going to let those goals in often. Lindgren also isn’t going to own-goal himself regularly.
This is a case of what-if syndrome, but if those three plays don’t happen, we aren’t having these conversations. They did though, so we are.
It will turn
A few things to consider. Zibanejad, Kreider, and Panarin aren’t going to play like this all season. The Rangers are way too skilled to shoot 7% all season. It’s really those three that need to get going, and to a lesser extent Ryan Strome.
Shesterkin will make rookie mistakes, but I think it’s safe to assume he won’t let in goals like that on a regular basis. The Rangers have been very unlucky thus far. Patience is a virtue, and the wins will come. The Rangers are better than their record, even if it’s hard to see.