The New York Rangers' brutal November schedule of 16 games in 29 nights is now behind us, so just as I did in October, I've tallied all the 'fancy' counting stats and summarized them for November. Before we go any further, here is a refresher on the definition being used for a scoring chance:
A scoring chance is defined as a clear play directed toward the opposing net from a dangerous scoring area - loosely defined as the top of the circle in and inside the faceoff dots, though sometimes slightly more generous than that depending on the amount of immediately-preceding puck movement or screens in front of the net. Blocked shots are generally not included, but missed shots are. A player is awarded a scoring chance anytime he is on the ice and someone from either team has a chance to score. He is awarded a "chance for" if someone on his team has a chance to score and a "chance against" if the opposing team has a chance to score.
|EVF||EVA||EV +/-||EV Time||EVF/60||EVA/60||DIFF|
|PPF||PPA||PP +/-||PP Time||PPF/60||PPA/60||DIFF|
|SHF||SHA||SH +/-||SH Time||SHF/60||SHA/60||DIFF|
*Data does not reflect 5v3 situations or when Rangers' net was empty.
It's clear that the theory that we play differently with Lundqvist between the pipes has alot of merit. All three units have seen drastically improved numbers with Biron in net. In fact, the team in front of Martin Biron would likely make us contenders for the President's Trophy, and the team in front of Lundqvist would be scouting Adam Larsson by now. We can look even more closely by checking the 5v5 chances based on the score:
The table might be a tad hard to understand, so let me elaborate. When the score is tied, the team has played break-even hockey in front of Henrik thus far, but is actually +10 in front of Biron. On top of that, the team is outchancing regardless of the score in front of Biron, which is fairly remarkable. It seems, however, that when the Rangers get a lead with Lundqvist in net, they are more inclined to lean on him to protect the lead. This can be backed up by the large negative chance differential when the team has 1 and 2 goals leads. Instinct might be that this is merely a 3rd period trend, but they have been outchanced 21-11 even in the 1st period and a 1-goal lead in front of Hank (data not shown). Of course, Henrik has also faced vastly superior teams, which certainly plays a role in everything.
|Name||ES CF||ESCA||ES TOI||ES CF/15||ES CA/15||PP CF||PPCA||PP TOI||PP CF/15||PP CA/15||SH CF||SHCA||SH TOI||SH CF/15||SH CA/15|
*Highlighted cells indictate high (green) and low (red) players for the rate stats. ES minimum of 100 minutes, PP and SH 20 minutes. Table is sortable by clicking the column headers
Not surprisingly, Marian Gaborik is pacing the play in November at both even strength and on the powerplay. Although there has been talk of him being in a funk, the offense has still been at it's most dangerous when he is skating around. The other standout at even strength in November was one Ruslan Fedotenko, who led the team in differential, while playing simply astounding 2-way hockey. I was as critical as anyone for the team's decision to bring him into camp, but it's impossible to complain about the results.
Derek Stepan, who led the team in October differential, continues to be a positive player while on the ice, despite his mini slump in individual chances that spanned the beginning of the month. Contrast his play to that of Erik Christensen, who was a team worst both in chances for and chances against for the month of November. Sure, he had a shootout winner, but his play otherwise has been the poorest of the forwards relied on for offense.
Speaking of players relied on for offense, much was speculated about Alex Frolov and his production being able to help the Rangers still struggling power play. Well, the team has been at it's worst when he's on, with less than half as many chances as the team generates compared to having Gaborik out there. Besides the 52 failed wraparounds (estimated), this is a certain cause of the raised blood pressure when speaking of his play. On the flip side, while still not trusted with regular time, it's worth noting that Brian Boyle's CF/15 on the power play is even larger than Gaborik's. 13+ CF/15 is probably too high a number to sustain, but Boyle should be given a greater chance on that unit.
As for the penalty kill, the numbers hold form. Ryan Callahan is still our best killer, with Brandon Dubinsky right on his heels. The 2nd unit, rotated with Stepan, Boyle, Fedotenko, Anisimov, and Prust, are clearly a step behind, with Brandon Prust in particular struggling for the month. To the defense....
|Name||ES CF||ESCA||ES TOI||ES CF/20||ES CA/20||PP CF||PPCA||PP TOI||PP CF/20||PP CA/20||SH CF||SHCA||SH TOI||SH CF/20||SH CA/20|
*Quick note - defense is adjusted to 20 minutes, rather than 15 for forwards. Same rate criteria applies. Table again is sortable by clicking the headers.
Dan Girardi has had an excellent season, but his chances against have been steadily bad over the course of both months thus far. There is some evidence of this in the fact he is 2nd only to Michael Del Zotto in GAON (goals against while on the ice), and it could be much worse if he started to get below average goaltending while he's out there. It helps emphasize the importance of his lofty blocked shot totals, without them, the team would be drowning. Marc Staal, who had an excellent October, faired much worse in November, being beaten up by several teams and seeing his differential drop from +1.74 down to -1.09, easily the biggest chance from October to November. The general opinion was that he started poorly, but clearly it is now where he has struggled more. Rounding out the top 4, though injured for a good majority of the month, Michal Rozsival was pretty clearly the best at keeping the work load for our goalies easy. He is not well liked, but he was clearly effective at doing his job of playing defense, while helping the PP to boot.
As for the bottom three, Matt Gilroy did everything in his power to stay in the lineup. Most chances for, least against among the subgroup. On the flip side, Steve Eminger had the least for and most against. The plus for Eminger, on top of his ability to bring 'delicious fruit preserves', is that his numbers did come with an increased level of competition, which should certainly be taken into account. One thing for sure though, we need to keep him off of the PK, where he represented a significant downgrade from the top 3. The problem is of course, that no one else played at a comparable level. Mike Sauer, steady as they come at even strength, also struggled with his penalty killing.
After ingesting all of that, if you would like to see a comparison to a very good 5v5 team, check out Derek Zona's summary of the Florida Panthers over at Litter Box Cats, or a very bad team with Derek summing Dennis King's chances for the Edmonton Oilers over at Copper and Blue. For anything else you want to know on the topic, fire away in the comments.