If you’re new to this site, then you may be wondering why we focus so much on process, especially early in the season. Results are what get you into the playoffs, and that’s what eventually matters. This is true. Process, specifically good, consistent process, is how you get more favorable results over time.
While many like to use just one source (mostly xGF% from one of the stat sites), we like to combine that with live tracking data. Luckily, Steve Valiquette tracks that, so we can compare Rangers high danger chances from the stat sites to what he is tracking. Both sites show the same: The Rangers are dominating the high danger chance battle, and that is how you build a Stanley Cup contender.
Manual tracking shows Rangers high danger chances have been dominate
The Rangers may be 3-2, but one of those games (Columbus) was butchered by disallowed goals and a rare subpar goaltending performance from Igor Shesterkin. On a game by game basis, the Rangers high danger chances have been dominant.
- Game 1: Rangers 7, Sabres 2
- Game 2: Rangers 5, Blue Jackets 6
- Game 3: Rangers 7, Coyotes 5
- Game 4: Rangers 2, Predators 6
- Game 5: Rangers 9, Seattle 2
That’s a +9 high danger chance differential for the Blueshirts, to the tune of a 58.8% high danger chance share. That’s a strong sign that the Rangers have clamped down defensively while also generating sustained offense with good chances.
Vally’s data also has medium danger and low danger chances. The latter, to me, is just noise that we can mostly ignore. It inflates xG percentages by simply occurring in large volume, but those rarely turn into legitimate scoring chances. Medium danger chances should be noted, but they are not prime opportunities. Some more noise, but noise we should monitor.
Those high danger chances –odd man rushes, slot chances, rebounds, slot line passes, etc– are where the best teams convert. Even the worst teams convert. No team is perfect, and they will have clunkers. But even with that clunker, the Rangers have close to a 60% high danger share. That’s very good, and a sign of good things to come.
Stat sites back up the manual tracking
One person’s tracking doesn’t tell a whole story, so we need to back that up with multiple sources. Evolving-Hockey, for example, has the Rangers at a 55% xG share. I couldn’t find their high-danger numbers, so I went over to Natural Stat Trick, which has the Rangers at a 56.58 HDCF (high danger shot attempts) rate.
That’s two sites and manual tracking that show the Rangers have clamped down defensively while consistently generating more high danger chances. It’s still early, and there are a bunch of teams in the 60% realm right now, which is too high to sustain. That may also hold true for the Rangers, as it’s early and they haven’t had the toughest schedule to start the season.
But in the idea of optimism and process improvement, this is what you want to see. The Rangers are dominating the bad competition while learning a new system. In theory, as playing under Peter Laviolette becomes second nature, it should counterbalance any regression the Rangers see.
So why don’t the Rangers have a better record?
The Rangers have lost twice so far this season. They 100% deserved to lose the clunker against Nashville, so the only game in question is that Columbus game. If you recall, the Rangers had a pair of goals disallowed, hit a few posts, and got abnormally poor goaltending from Igor Shesterkin. The Rangers controlled the game for the most part, and it makes you wonder how it would have unfolded, especially that 5-6 HD chance disadvantage, had those goals been allowed.
As covered in Wednesday’s Patreon post (subscribe here!), the SH% and SV% will get back to about 9% and 92%, respectively. That will help balance any possession and high danger chance balance we see as well.
There’s a lot to like about the way the Rangers have played in their first five games. The overall body of work has been solid. It hasn’t been perfect, they will make mistakes, and they will get real tests from legitimate playoff teams and Stanley Cup contenders soon enough. So far, so good though.
Don’t miss the forest for the trees, focusing on one bad play or game. The New York Rangers are a Stanley Cup contending team this season.