The New York Rangers completed January with a shaky 7-6-1 record, with 3 wins coming via the shootout and another off the stick of Mats Zuccarello in overtime. Ok, so it was really 4 wins coming off the stick of Mats Zuccarello. In total, the Rangers played a total of eleven 1-goal games on the month. With that many close games, it is not much surprise that the scoring chances for the month ended up fairly even, with a final tally of 261 -234 (52.7%). Before getting into the tables, here's the definition again, as a refresher and for the newer
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.
The summaries for previous months can be found by following their respective links:
We'll start again with the goalies:
|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
This was the first month where Martin Biron actually received 'negative chance support,' powered almost entirely by his surprise start against the Washington Capitals just before the all-star break. In that game, the Rangers were outchanced 5-0 in the overtime and 16-9 for the game.
What we should find troubling is the power outage occuring during the Rangers PP, where for the second straight month they averaging just one chance per 2 minutes. With 6 goals on the 34 chances (17.6%), the problem has not been a lack of 'finish,' so the solution lies in getting more shots from the key areas, with only the 'how' needing to be answered.
Continue reading for the skaters' data.
|EVF||EVA||EV TOI||EVF/15||EVA/15||PPF||PPA||PP TOI||PPF/15||PPA/15||SHF||SHA||SH TOI||SHF/15||SHA/15|
*Highlighted cells indictate high (green) and low (red) players for the rate stats. EV minimum of 100 minutes, PP and SH 15 minutes. Table is sortable by clicking the column headers
It seems best to start with the obvious. Brandon Dubinsky was having a tremendous month before going down with injury, posting a Rangers' season high for EVF/15 and PPF/15. On the flip side, everyone's favorite target of scorn, Chris Drury, posted near the team low for the month. In limited defense of Drury, Tortorella has continued to bury him, as he has a team low 37.2% offensive Zone Start. That Drury is near the best in chances against and breaking relatively even is a testament to the fact is defensive skills haven't yet waned.
Speaking of usage, the newly found 'shutdown line' of Fedotenko-Boyle-Prust has taken one for the team lately. The trio, aside from Drury, were the only Rangers with a negative chance differential, and were the team worst in chances against for the month. The yeoman's work they were doing allowed Tortorella to use Mats Zuccarello and Wojtek Wolski in highly offensive roles, and their numbers reflect that.
Finally, with injuries abound, there were several AHL'ers that made their Rangers' debuts in the month. Despite the possible returns of Ryan Callahan and Vinny Prospal, it is likely at least one will be needed after the break. Most would agree that Chad Kolarik was the most productive of the group, and it appears the counting stats match the eyes. Despite getting half the minutes of Kris Newbury or Dale Weise, Kolarik was on for the 2nd most chances of all the callups. It would seem then that among the AHL guys recently recalled, Kolarik should have been among them.
Moving on to the defense:
|EVF||EVA||EV TOI||EVF/20||EVA/20||PPF||PPA||PP TOI||PPF/20||PPA/20||SHF||SHA||SH TOI||SHF/20||SHA/20|
*Highlighted cells indictate high (green) and low (red) players for the rate stats. ES minimum of 100 minutes, PP and SH 15 minutes. Table is sortable by clicking the column headers
The trade of Michal Rozsival has led to a shift in the usage of our defenseman. None have benefited more than Matt Gilroy, who logged only 93.7 minutes per month in the first three months, but more than doubled that total in January. The reasons stand out, as he has the 2nd highest totals offensively and defensively for the month. Then you have Michael Sauer. His responsibilities have grown as the season moves on, and yet his numbers continue to be steady. Sauer paced the pack in chances against both at ES and on the PK, while logging more minutes than all aside from the ironman pair. The combination of these two, along with Gilroy's oft-partner and rookie Ryan McDonagh, helped make the trade of Rozsival possible in the first place.
The red 6.33 next to Girardi's name is a continuation of a trend, the 3rd time in 4 months he had the worst CA/20 of the month (Michael Del Zotto having barely edged him out in October). By some accounts, Girardi has been the best defenseman on the team. It is becoming increasingly clear, however, that his team leading 23 points on the backline and team leading blocked shot numbers are disguising his defensive lapses. This is not to say Girardi is having a bad year, as he clearly is not. I do think though that the team might benefit from easing up his assignments and giving Staal-Sauer a full time shot.
For points of comparison, please check out the Oilers' chance summaries over at Copper and Blue, or the Capitals' chances courtesy of Neil Greenberg at The Russian Machine Never Breaks. Finally, if you have any questions, fire away in the comments.