Pick a team, any team…
With the Rangers finally clinching a playoff spot last night with their win over Carolina, the final game of the season against the Devils has lost some significance. Don’t get me wrong, I’m tremendously grateful that the boys from Newark don’t get to play spoiler against us a week after we eliminated them from postseason contention. However, the game could be important when it comes to shuffling out the bottom of the Eastern Conference deck.
The Rangers, Islanders and Senators currently sit 6-8 in the East with 54 points. The Sens hold a game in hand on both the Rangers and Isles. At the moment, the Rangers hold the tiebreaker with 21 regulation wins to the Senators’ and Islanders’ 20. As we know, the Rangers only remaining opponent is New Jersey on Saturday, while the Isles only have lowly Buffalo remaining, and Ottawa has Philly and Boston. The final few games could have the bottom three spots in the conference shake out in a number of ways.
This got me thinking, out of the four possible opponents for the Blueshirts in the first round, is there really a preferred matchup? As the standings currently, well, stand, the Rangers could potentially matchup against Pittsburgh, Boston, Washington, or slightly less likely Montreal. Let’s have a gander at how the Rangers match up against each one…
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All NYR PPGs.
A very loyal reader, who prefers to remain anonymous, spent his own time and effort to create a graphical depiction of where the Rangers have scored their powerplay goals this season, represented in the image above (click for a larger image). This is fantastic stuff, and when it was sent to me, I noticed some very interesting trends.
The first thing that jumped out at me, something that the “loyal anonymous reader” pointed out, is that Ryan Callahan is always in front of the net. If there’s a rebound goal scored with the man advantage, you can safely assume it was Cally who scored the goal. Two of his goals are actually from really bad angles for a right-handed shot (the two black dots on the left by the goal line).
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- Since the trade deadline, Derick Brassard has three goals in six assists in 10 games and Marian Gaborik has three goals and four assists in 10 games.
- The Rangers are 7-2-1 since the trade deadline. (Via @Herman_NYRBlog)
- The Rangers are 8-36 (22.2%) on the power play since the trade deadline and were converting at a 14.3% rate before it.
- Brad Richards has four goals and three assists in his last three games. Richards notched his first career hat trick in his 896th game on Friday. He’d previously had 22 two-goal games. (Via @SteveZipay)
- Richards’ burst gives him 10 goals and 20 assists in 43 games, which is a 57-point pace (19 goals, 38 assists) over an 82-game season. Read more »
ANDREW THEODORAKIS/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
One of the less talked about narratives of this season has been the New York Rangers unheralded blue line, particularly their ability to provide offense. When most people think of d-men with offensive ability, they always tend to think about players with big point shots or nifty powerplay quarterbacks.
The Rangers don’t really possess either, at least in the traditional sense. And yet if you look at the stats and project them against a full season, you’ll find that the Blueshirt’s blueline has quietly put up a decent amount of points in this abbreviated season.
Had this been a full 82 game season, Michael Del Zotto would be on pace to put up 35-40 points (again), as would have McDonagh. Girardi is creeping up on 30 pt territory and Marc Staal was on pace for a 40+ point season. All of these players have had to carry the weight defensively at various points during the season either because of zone starts or because of top flight match-ups. And yet these core d-men all still found a way to potentially clear 30+ points.
And who the hell knows what John Moore could accomplish with a full season on Broadway.
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- New York has won 11 of its last 12 games against the Flyers dating back to March 6, 2011. The Rangers have outscored the Flyers 46-20 during that timeframe.
- The Rangers are 14-3-3 in their last 20 games against the Islanders.
- New York is 19-for-20 on the penalty kill over its last seven games. The Rangers are 14-4-2 when they don’t allow a power play goal this season.
- Henrik Lundqvist is now tied with Eddie Giacomin for most career shutouts by a Ranger goalie with 50. Read more »
Stralman’s had an interesting statistical season.
Anton Stralman has solidified himself as a great option for defense, especially when he slides into the bottom pairing. He has proven to be worth the contract he has been signed to ($1.7 million through next season), and provides the Rangers with an incredibly deep blue line when everyone is healthy. In the salary cap era, clubs need to find cheap talent, and the Rangers have found that in Stralman.
That said, Stralman’s 2013 campaign has been very interesting. He’s not lighting the lamp, though he’s not really that type of defenseman, but he’s been playing a fairly solid two-way game. When looking at his metrics, he leads all Ranger defensemen with a whopping 17.0 RCorsi, which is absolutely absurd. That 17.0 RCorsi is better than puck possession monster Carl Hagelin and superstar Rick Nash. It’s actually mind-boggling good.
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- Injured Ranger Derek Dorsett led the NHL with 235 penalty minutes last season. Dorsett ranked third in the league in fighting majors behind Brandon Prust and Shawn Thornton.
- Mats Zuccarello has 13 hits in six games this season. He had eight hits in 10 games last year and 56 in 42 games two years ago. (Via @Herman_NYRBlog)
- The Rangers are 5-4-1 in back-to-back sets and 2-3-0 in the second game of those sets.
- In the second game of back-to-back sets during his career, Henrik Lundqvist is 40-17-7 with a 1.91 GAA and a .933 SV%. Read more »
Photo Credit: Associated Press
Throughout the course of his career as a Ranger, I was always pretty supportive of Marian Gaborik. While I understand some fans appreciate powerforwards more so than pure snipers, I try not to weigh one skill set vs. the other. At the end of the day, teams need skill and will players to create offensive balance.
Indeed, Gaborik wasn’t one who created offense by lugging the puck through 3 zones, putting moves on 3-4 players and then finish by dekeing out the goalie. He was simply a snipeshow whose strengths were his shot release and his foot speed.
For me, the questions with Gaborik were never really about fitting our aggressive forechecking system or staying healthy, but rather about finding consistency and elevating his game.
After almost four seasons as a New York Ranger, the answers to those questions are still a bit of a mystery to me.
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In the next chapter of Metrics We Use, I am going to look at Corsi Rel QoC. For those that need a refresher on the other metrics, please refer to our Metrics We Use page. Corsi Rel QoC is a metric that is used to measure quality of competition faced, but it is much more accurate than straight QoC. QoC sometimes is skewed by puck-luck, whereas Corsi Rel QoC is only weighted based off RCorsi. This makes for a more accurate depiction of quality of competition faced. Like most metrics, the values are generally between +1.00 and -1.00. The higher the number, the stiffer the quality faced. The lower the number, the more sheltered a player is.
Looking at the Rangers, the numbers are interesting. The numbers also illustrate how important Carl Hagelin is to this team. His Corsi Rel QoC is tops among forwards, meaning he faces the toughest competition on a nightly basis. That said, he also has the highest RCorsi on the team, meaning he drives puck possession better than anyone else who puts a blue sweater on. Combine the two, and you have a puck possession monster.
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Tough as nails, pretty solid defensively too.
When the Rangers sent draft picks to San Jose and Marian Gaborik to Columbus for Ryane Clowe, Derick Brassard, Derek Dorsett, and John Moore, it was very clear what the Rangers were doing. They were addressing their black holes of lineup depth and lineup toughness. But, one thing that was floating under the radar was play without the puck, and these new guys were also brought in to help in a defensive role as well. John Tortorella will not play someone if they are a defensive liability (see: Kreider, Chris; Miller, J.T.).
Clowe and Brassard likely to slot into second or third line roles. Dorsett will be a fourth line player, and Moore a bottom pairing defenseman (for now, his potential is through the roof). Players in these roles are not expected to carry the offensive load. They are expected to play physical, two way hockey. Some offensive burden will fall on Clowe and Brassard, and last night showcased how effective they can be in that role. But it’s their defense (and physicality) that will keep them in the lineup long-term.
Looking first at GVT/PVT (please be sure to check the Metrics We Use page for details):
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