Yesterday, I found myself intrigued by a series of conversations on Twitter by Japers Rink, Corey Sznajder of Shut Down Line, and George Ays (RangerSmurf) about the complete domination by the Caps in puck possession throughout the series. Looking at BTN this morning, I see why they were in such shock by the domination. The Rangers, who were a dominant puck possession team throughout the season, are getting thoroughly out-possessed by a Caps team that wasn’t a good puck possession team in the regular season.
There is only one player on the team who is on the positive side of Corsi, and that is Mats Zuccarello at a 2.44 Corsi/ON (aka Corsi/60). Kris Newbury (1 game), Steve Eminger, and Ryan Callahan are all at 0.00 Corsi/ON, but every other Ranger is in the negative in this category. Even Carl Hagelin, who despite putting up points is struggling in the possession department (-13.25 Corsi/ON). You might say that this is due to the tough assignments, but Zuccarello is third on the team in Corsi Rel QoC (5.321), so that’s not the determining factor. Zone starts aren’t a factor either, with the top offensive guys getting the most offensive starts, but still struggling to maintain puck possession. (All numbers at even strength.)
So what is the issue?
The Rangers are simply getting outplayed, which is something we’ve all seen from the games. Don’t get me wrong, the Rangers have been playing well, but the Caps have simply been better. And yes, it is possible to play well and still be outplayed. The two are not mutually exclusive. This is a team that won’t win if the Caps are dominating the puck possession game. Not only does it give the much more skilled Caps team more shots, but it prevents the Rangers from generating rhythm offensively.
But despite this, the Rangers are 2-1-2 against the Caps this series. Yes, that winds up being down 3-2 in the playoffs, but there were two overtime games that the Rangers lost. They are getting dominated in the puck possession game, but they aren’t being dominated in the W/L category. That all boils down to Henrik Lundqvist –If I hear one more complaint that he’s not a playoff goalie, I’ll snap. Seriously, with the way these numbers are, the Rangers could have been swept without him.– and his ability to keep the Rangers in the game. Such is the standard in New York nowadays.
We are a silver lining kind of blog, and that is the silver lining right there. Even though they haven’t dressed their full lineup all series, this team has the best goalie in the world, and he is at the top of his game. The home team has held serve in the first five games, and The Garden crowd will be rocking today for Game Six. This series is not over, not by a longshot.