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 Devils. Andrew 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|
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:
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