After Sam’s beautifully written piece on how everything is all happy and well in Rangerstown, I am going to tell you why it won’t be for long.
After a 2-7-2 start, the Rangers have gone 15-6-1 to get themselves back into a decent position in a stacked Metro division. This is great, but looking at the numbers, it’s probably not going to continue.
For those who are not familiar with these stats, here’s a glossary of how we’re going to analyze these Rangers:
xGF% (Expected Goals for %): Measures shot quality based on shot distance, shot angle, shot type, and the player shooting. Read this explanation from hockey graphs for more.
CF% (Corsi for %): Percentage of shot attempts for that a player is on the ice for.
Cd60 (Corsi differential per 60 minutes): Shot attempt differential (+/-) per 60 minutes played.
S% (Shooting %): Percentage of shots taken that are goals.
GF% (Goals for %): Goals for/Goals for + Goals against. Essentially goal differential in percentage form.
Assume all stats are at 5-on-5 (5v5), except for shooting percentage.
This is the one that would be most concerning to me as a Rangers fan. The chart above shows the rolling average of Cd60. The Rangers have consistently had the possession driven against them the entire season. The most concerning part is that it’s getting worse. You can’t use the bad start as an excuse either. They nearly got back to even on November 22, but since then, they’ve gotten severely out played despite managing to put a nice little winning streak together. On top of that, just three Rangers have a positive CF%: Pavel Buchnevich (50.84), Mika Zibanejad (53.6), and Tony DeAngelo (56.25), who was assigned to Hartford for some reason. That is bad, quite bad, and it’s getting worse.
Then there is shooting percentage, the percentage of shots taken that result in goals. The league average individual shooting percentage is 9.2%. 11 Rangers are shooting above 9.2%. Now it’s not unusual to be slightly above like Jimmy Vesey’s 9.8%, but the some Rangers are shooting at a ridiculous rate, which likely cannot sustain. I could write a whole novel on Michael Grabner’s S%; He shot 7.8% with Toronto in 2015/16, then spiked up to 16.7% last season. There’s no way he can do that again right? Well he has, shooting at an absolutely absurd rate of 23.2%. Unheard of, and he’s taken 69 shots which is 6th on the Rangers. He even scored off a shot where he missed the net high on Saturday, and the puck bounced off the glass, off the Tuukka Rask’s back, and in. That’s just how it’s gone for Michael Grabner.
Other Rangers with above average S% include Jesper Fast shooting at 25% (7 goals on 28 shots), Zibanejad at 16.67%, Buchnevich at 14.7%, Chris Kreider at 13.8%, David Desharnais at 13.6%, JT Miller at 12.2%, Mats Zuccarello at 11.4%, Kevin Hayes at 10.9%, and Paul Carey at 10.5%. Not all of them will regress, and above average S% are normal, but the rate that the Rangers have shot at to this point of the season simply cannot sustain.
“Oh well maybe they’re just good shooters” you might say. Well, yes. They’re 5th in the league in xGF, which means they’re creating scoring chances, the problem is their xGA (Expected Goals Against). They’ve allowed the second most xG in the league (Arizona), which is likely a result of their defense.
*Looks up Rangers defense*
As you can see, the Rangers pairing have mostly been Shattenkirk-Skjei, Holden-McDonagh, and Staal-Kampfer/Smith. The Shattenkirk and Skjei pairing has been great at creating offense, but they also give up a lot. Holden-McDonagh hasn’t really done anything offensively, and has been “meh” at best defensively. Meanwhile, Marc Staal is just being obliterated at 5v5 in every facet of the game, Steven Kampfer and Brendan Smith haven’t been all that great themselves but that’s a direct result of playing with Staal, who is not great, some might say bad.
“So why are they doing so well?”
Well, a few reasons. First and foremost, Henrik Lundqvist is as elite as he’s ever been. Made worse by a bad October, his 5v5 Sv% is .922, and his high danger sv% is .828. Both Excellent. Ondrej Pavelec has been a bit of a revelation too, with a .923 5v5 sv%. Also, looking at their xG, they have no trouble creating scoring chances when they have the puck, the problem is they never have the puck, so they’re making their chances count when they get them.
I’m not here to rip the Rangers, but looking at the numbers, this is usually a formula for regression. They may not fall back to earth, maybe the Rangers will be last years Senators and will their way to a deep playoff run, but the Corsi percentages are a huge red flag. The Rangers are winning games now, but sooner rather than later they’ll likely come back down to earth, and in a big way.
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