Which Rangers defenseman misses the net the most? Spoiler: It’s not who you think

Which Rangers defenseman misses the net the most?

It’s amazing what a year can do for a team. Last year, the Rangers had no process and leaned on high shooting percentage all season. This year they are better overall with process, dominating most games in terms of puck control and shot share, but can’t buy a goal. One of the primary concerns is the Rangers are missing the net a ton, with a lot of blame on specific players. Offense from the defensemen can be a driving force, so which Rangers defenseman misses the net the most?

Which Rangers defenseman misses the net the most?

You’ll have to excuse the crude screenshot of the 5v5 stats from Natural Stat Trick. Breaking down what each column header means:

  • iCF: Total shot attempts, including missing the net and blocked
  • FF: Total shot attempts, including missing the net but not blocked
  • SF: Shots on goal
  • Shots Blocked: CF-FF, or total shot attempts minus those that are blocked
  • Missing Net: FF-SF, or shot attempts (excluding blocked) that don’t hit the net
  • Total Missed/Blocked: shots blocked + missing net

The goal of the above is to figure out which Rangers defenseman is missing the net the most. Using just raw numbers, it’s not Jacob Trouba. Hold your collective outrage, because raw numbers always need context. Based on sheer volume, it is Trouba’s partner, K’Andre Miller, that has the most shots that have missed the net. He’s also the one that has the most attempts that don’t make it to the net.

Miller also has 17 fewer total shot attempts than Trouba, so he has a higher percentage of shots that are simply not on net, well over half. Braden Schneider and Ryan Lindgren are also over 50%, but they aren’t relied upon for offense. Role matters too. And no, this isn’t picking on Miller. Just taking the stats from Natural Stat Trick.

Worth noting that Libor Hajek has not missed the net yet this season. Small sample size, but that stood out to me.

Rangers struggles with lower-event teams

The more frustrating aspect of this Rangers team is how inept they look against teams that take away the high danger, home plate area in front of the net. Nashville is just the most recent example, but Tampa did it throughout the playoffs. They simply have no answer offensively. They still dominate puck possession, but it’s impossible to hold the puck for 60 minutes. When they have slip ups, it winds up in their net, and they can’t get enough quality chances through to counter.

I tweeted this same observation after the Nashville game, and Adam Herman brought up a very good point. From a hockey tactics standpoint, when teams take away the home plate area, the offensive zone strategy shifts from generating quality chances to getting the puck through and crashing the net. This is where the Rangers struggle, not so much in crashing the net, but in getting the pucks through a collapsing box. Again, this is all at 5v5.

This is where the context matters. Starting with the Nashville game (I had to shift to Evolving-Hockey to get the full stats), the Rangers defensemen struggled to get pucks through:

  • Trouba: 7 shot attempts, 6 SOG, 1 blocked, 0 missed
  • Miller: 3 shot attempts, all 3 got blocked
  • Fox: 3 shot attempts, 1 SOG, 1 blocked, 1 missed
  • Schneider: 3 shot attempts, 2 SOG, 0 blocked, 1 missed
  • Lindgren/Schneider: 0 shot attempts

The David Quinn Super Bowl game against San Jose was another frustrating game where it appeared the Rangers couldn’t generate steady offense.

  • Miller: 5 shot attempts, 2 SOG, 2 blocked, 1 missed
  • Trouba: 2 shot attempts, 0 SOG, 1 blocked, 1 missed
  • Fox: 2 shot attempts, 0 SOG, 0 blocked, 2 missed
  • Jones: 2 shot attempts, 2 SOG, 0 blocked, 0 missed
  • Schneider: 2 shot attempts, 0 SOG, 1 blocked, 1 missed
  • Lindgren: 1 shot attempt, 0 SOG, 1 blocked, 0 missed

One more game that was frustrating, and that was the clunker against Columbus:

  • Fox: 8 shot attempts, 5 SOG, 2 blocked, 1 missed
  • Miller: 6 shot attempts, 1 SOG, 3 blocked, 2 missed
  • Jones: 5 shot attempts, 2 SOG, 2 blocked, 1 missed
  • Lindgren: 4 shot attempts, 2 SOG, 2 blocked, 0 missed
  • Trouba: 2 shot attempts, both blocked
  • Schneider: 1 shot attempt, blocked

At the risk of cherry picking three games, we are sensing a pattern. For starters, the Rangers simply can’t get the puck through on a consistent basis. It’s a skill that some players have and some don’t. This may not be the trend for the full season, as it’s still mid-November, but this may explain some of the early struggles the Rangers have been having.

Drawing conclusions?

Naturally, the more one shoots, the more shots will get blocked or missed. That’s why the guys that miss the most, in terms of raw totals, are Miller, Trouba, and Fox. They shoot the most, so they will have more volume blocked or missing the net. It’s the same logic as giveaways, as having the puck more means you’ll have more raw giveaways.  At the very least, this should dispel some of the narrative that Jacob Trouba is the lone offender in missing the net or firing shots to the moon.

The Rangers should be an offensive juggernaut, but no team is perfect. This is clearly an effective way of defending the Rangers, and they don’t have many answers if this is how their opponents play at even strength. There’s also no clear solution other than trying to move around more, change angles, and make the opposition move. Moving feet opens holes to get pucks through.

The Rangers haven’t been able to put pucks in the net consistently, and perhaps the inability to get pucks through from the point is part of the problem. This is certainly something to watch as the Rangers try to erase their shooting woes.

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