The New York Rangers have scored 62 goals in 27 games, roughly 2.21 goals per game, not bad, but it puts them in the bottom 5 in the NHL in terms of goal scoring. To say it's been a frustrating start to the year for the Rangers would be an understatement. The question on everyone's mind though is...how do they fix it? How does this team, with all of it's fire power start putting the puck into the net more than the opponent is?
Simple answer? Don't change a thing.
Yeah, I know, that's not much of an answer but bear with me.
There is a fantastic website called ExtraSkater.com that has all of these wonderful statistics neatly sorted and easy to find and access and most of the following stats are coming from them, so go bookmark their site.
The Rangers have been, for lack of a better term, snakebit this year. For a team that sits 10th overall in CF% (The rate of all shot attempts for in a game) the team is shooting at a paltry 7.1% which is good for 28th in the league ahead of only the Philadelphia Flyers and the Buffalo Sabres. The Rangers are also averaging 31.07 SOG per game, so it's not like they aren't getting their chances, it's just matter of pucks bouncing one way and not the other.
"But, Kevin," you say, "The Rangers haven't been getting quality chances and quality shots. All of the Rangers shots have been from the outside."
Are you sure about that?
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 (nicknamed the Home Plate, detailed at the right), 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.
Ok, with the "scoring chance area" established lets take a look at where and how far the Rangers are getting their shots from. Courtesy of Sportingcharts.com and their wonderful Icetrack page
Yeah, I know it looks like a lot but let's break it down a bit.
As you can see the Rangers are getting most of their shots from between and inside the face off circles, with most of their goals coming closer in down closer to the net. The Rangers are getting great shots and great opportunities. Now lets see how many of those shots are in the designated "home plate area"
(Ignore my crappy drawing skills)
Again, as you can see, the Rangers ARE getting some high quality scoring chances and "high quality" shots they just aren't going in right now. Rick Nash is finally healthy, Chris Kreider is showing us that he's at least an NHL caliber top six player right now and it's only early December. Conversely, the Leafs are a woefully bad possession team and are riding insanely high shooting percentage and shooting percentage, being the fickle beast that it is, loves to fall back to earth while puck possession tends to measure true talent of teams and players. Point being, I'd rather be the Rangers right now than the Maple Leafs,
(For funsies, here's this year's Rangers team side by side with the 2011 New York Rangers team) [Small Sample Size warnings, obviously]