NY Rangers trends: It's all about Igor

Since the last NY Rangers trends piece, all Rangers fans have been happier with the final scores of the past 13 games as opposed to the first six weeks of the season. These are the familiar Rangers from most of 2021-22; consistently getting out shot & out chanced but ultimately winning games because of fantastic goaltending and an elite power play. And hey, this is ok (for now)!

The reason is because we that the formula of great power play & goaltending can work if the Rangers can simply be mostly average at 5v5. In a sense, the Rangers rode the shooting & goaltending regression upwards in the standings while they (hopefully) bottomed out at 5v5 – but there is a path forward that is starting to emerge to the tune of the overall formula laid out above.

There are three main takeaways of NY Rangers trends from the last month of play at 5v5. First the bad, which is that from a shot & chance for per 60 standpoint they were bottom-5. Positively, their team defense has held true at a top-10 level (which was the case for most of last season) and we all know that more pucks are finding the back of the net on top of Shesterkin looking top-10-ish again.

NY Rangers Trends – Forwards

As you can see above, the bottoming-out at 5v5 was caused by the lack of generating shots & chances for most of December. The good news is that in the last 4 games the Rangers are back towards league average in both areas. This is the result of the forward lines as combos starting to generate more and it’s led by the Kid Line, Panarin & Zibanejad driving play regardless of their RW, and even Kreider-Trocheck-Vesey chipping in more.

One topic I did want to comment on is the notion that maybe the Rangers are now generating more high danger chances among the lower amount of scoring chances they’re getting at 5v5. Overall this is not proven out in the shot-location data. The Rangers are pretty much dead average in the league in that about 40% of their scoring chances at 5v5 are from the “home plate” area in front of the net that makes up the high danger. They’ve been a little better of late, but again I attribute that more to the forward lines coming into their own.

Finishing up with the forward focus, the Power Play is truly on a heater at this time. While they’ve been a top-5 or better unit all year in generating chances on the Power Play, for a while they could not convert. That changed drastically lately and has been a big part of the Rangers revival.


We have a mixed bag of NY Rangers trends for the defense pairs in the last 13 games due to a number of short-lived changes (they’ve had 5 pairs play over 40 TOI together at 5v5). Separate to the graph above, Lindgren-Fox continues to be a top pair in the league when on-ice together (Fox for Norris) and while I disagree still with the signing of Ben Harpur, I will pay him the compliment that he hasn’t been an absolute liability in his 5 games so far.

The key pair for the Rangers going forward will be Miller-Trouba; and it’s Trouba that is the focus. While it’s too early to make any grand statements, he has currently posted 4 straight positive Game Score results, something he hasn’t done all year with the exception of the first 5 games of the season (when he and Miller were producing great on-ice results). As you can see, for the middle 25 games of the season it has been an inconsistent ride, so if he’s able to stabilize and have a string of positive games then the pair will continue to look better.


In net, Halak is still fighting it overall at even strength but has been better of late with “better” meaning average. That is all they can ask for from a backup.

For Shesterkin, his season inflection point began with this start on 11/13 against Arizona. When it comes to Goals Saved Above Expected (aka taking into account how many scoring chances against), here are his splits before and after that date at all situations (via Evolving Hockey):

  • First 11 GP (10/1-11/12): 2.53 GSAx, ranking 19th in the NHL
  • Last 15 GP (11/13-12/26): 6.1 GSAX, ranking 9th in the NHL

While it is key that Shesterkin tries to remain at a top-10-ish pace for as long as he can, we also all know he could possibly find an even higher gear at some point as well.

Overall it has already been quite the journey for the NY Rangers trends this season. They started out looking like a very well rounded team that was going to control play. But when pucks weren’t finding their way in and the goaltending wasn’t at a top-10 level, lineup changes occurred that caused major concern. While we’ll see if the recent tweaks that could lead to more offense will stick, their team defense has remained a constant and the goaltending has found its footing.

Given what we saw last spring and as I stated at the start, we know this formula can work. It is just key that with some pressure released due to picking up much needed standings points that the staff & players now focus on showing more offense at 5v5. If that can indeed come, the Rangers will be taking the much needed step forward to getting back into the possible contender conversation.


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