What happened to the Rangers' shooting?

Those who have read previous articles and comments of mine know that I believe 100% in the philosophy of shot creation and shot prevention being the most important elements to the success of an NHL team.  Recently, Tyler Dellow revisited the topic of Even Strength shooting as it pertained to the Oilers, as did John Fischer for the DevilsAndrew Cogliano rumors aside, that's not what should matter to us.  It's the Rangers that matter, so let's go ahead and review the Rangers the last few years where success has been dissipating

ES shooting is a fairly consistent phenomenoa.  Not only league wide, but also positionally.  Here's a look at the last 3 years, broken out by position (the term "qualifying" refers to players at the position with 40+ GP):

All Players   Qualifying Players
2010 SOG TOI ESS/60 SH%   2010 SOG TOI ESS/60 SH%
Forwards 43130 344429.43 7.513 9.529%   Forwards 40638 322030.34 7.572 9.624%
Centers 16619 140385.96 7.103 9.104%   Centers 15497 130093.39 7.147 9.266%
Wingers 26511 204043.47 7.796 9.796%   Wingers 25141 191936.95 7.859 9.844%
Defensemen 13480 232572.47 3.478 4.421%   Defensemen 12518 215753.01 3.481 4.434%
Total 56610 577001.9 5.887 8.313%   Total 53156 537783.35 5.931 8.402%
2009 SOG TOI ESS/60 SH%   2009 SOG TOI ESS/60 SH%
Forwards 41577 332756.43 7.497 9.647%   Forwards 39196 311196.42 7.557 9.715%
Centers 15197 132531.78 6.880 9.416%   Centers 14192 123439.17 6.898 9.534%
Wingers 26380 200224.65 7.905 9.780%   Wingers 25004 187757.25 7.990 9.818%
Defensemen 12635 228019.79 3.325 4.306%   Defensemen 12203 207776.08 3.524 4.138%
Total 54212 560776.22 5.800 8.402%   Total 51399 518972.5 5.942 8.391%
2008 SOG TOI ESS/60 SH%   2008 SOG TOI ESS/60 SH%
Forwards 39522 328723.91 7.214 9.640%   Forwards 36941 305636.92 7.252 9.770%
Centers 15248 137019.29 6.677 9.490%   Centers 14252 127798.47 6.691 9.578%
Wingers 24274 191704.62 7.597 9.735%   Wingers 22689 177838.45 7.655 9.890%
Defensemen 12662 224978.41 3.377 4.249%   Defensemen 11641 206194.79 3.387 4.330%
Total 52184 553702.32 5.655 8.332%   Total 48582 511831.71 5.695 8.468%

As you can see, while the shooting has received a slight uptick the last 3 years, the basic trend is the same.  NHL forwards launch about 7.5 shots per 60 minutes of play, defenseman about 3.5.  Among the forwards, the wingers are getting about 1 more shot per 60.  Even when you factor out part timers that bounce in and out of the league, the numbers are basically the same. 

Now how about individually?  You can probably figure out that Marian Gaborik is above average and Derek Boogaard is below average by this number, but what about the rest of the team?  Let's have a look:

NAME 2007-08 2008-09 2009-2010 NAME 2007-08 2008-09 2009-2010
AVERY 8.338 9.306 9.146 GILROY     3.979
GABORIK 11.941 9.496 9.105 GIRARDI 4.576 3.412 3.685
BOYLE 9.657 8.027 8.638 LEAGUE AVG 3.324 3.325 3.478
CALLAHAN 9.006 11.030 8.411 REDDEN 3.947 4.458 3.030
LEAGUE AVG 7.448 7.497 7.513 STAAL 3.284 3.422 2.727
6.925 5.909 7.062 DEL ZOTTO     2.584
6.942 ROZSIVAL 3.455 3.489 2.570
6.349 6.870 SAUER   2.255  
DRURY 7.480 7.131 6.853 EMINGER 3.925 2.714 2.182
PROSPAL 8.060 6.912
BYERS 0.000
8.620 7.483 5.458
WHITE 4.519 5.374 5.349
PRUST 5.230 5.073
BOOGAARD 1.815 2.881 4.318

Red numbers indicate the player was not on the Rangers during that season.

The thing that really stands out with this list is every single forward, save for Brian Boyle (28GP in 09) and Artem Anisimov (1GP in 09), saw their numbers decrease in the first year under Tortorella.  The defense suffered the same fate, with the exception of Girardi.  It goes without saying, but this is not a positive, given the considerable youth on the team that should be progressing.  One hopes this is a simple matter of adjusting to a new system, and that the players will all see the numbers rebound in 2010-11 with a year under their belts.  If not, this would be solid evidence of Tortorella not getting his message through, or more likely the players are tuning him out.

The other thing that has to be deflating is the talent that was brought in since the beginning of last year.  For all the chemistry Erik Christensen provided, he was not all that prolific in getting shots off.  Brandon Prust scratched, clawed and endeared himself to fans by fighting from day 1, but those hoping for anything more than 3rd line potential with him are destined to be disappointed.  Alexander Frolov had a bounce back year in 2009-10 in this stat, but his value still primarily comes from special teams.  Todd White looks every bit his age.  Derek Boogaard does at least seem to be improving from no skill to tolerable 5 minutes a night skill.  As for Steve Eminger, it doesn't appear you can count on him for offense this year either.

Fortunately, this is still just one stat.  Your reigning Hart winner, Henrik Sedin, managed a whopping 6.18 per 60 last year.  Everyone's favorite whipping boy, Christopher Higgins, managed 9.28.  Nonetheless, getting shots on net at ES is important for team success.  It's no coincidence that teams like Chicago, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Washington and Philadelphia were 5 of the top 7 teams last year in ESS/60, while teams like Florida, Tampa, and Columbus were in the bottom 7.

If anyone is looking for a way for the Rangers to get back to the playoffs, finding a way to get more shots on net would be a fine start.

credit as always to behindthenet.ca for the stats

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