Projecting Stats - Why you shouldn't blame the system, the trade, or Torts. Just the slump

Alright, I like stats and I wanted to see where the Rangers have been coming up short this season - and I've disagreed with some folks round these parts about why the Rangers suck this year and decided to do an emotionless statistical analysis of the year. Basically I took each player (from this season and last year), and projected their performance to an 82 game season, to compare where the team and players rank compared to last year. There are a lot of statistical blips, especially for players who don't score a lot of points but I think it is useful in understanding where the team is.

For starters let's look at the team compared to where they were last season at this point in the season,

Goals For = 67 / Goals for 2012 = 76

Goals against = 68 / Goals Against 2012 = 62.5

So basically the team is 14.5 +/- off pace from this point last season (9 goals for, 5.5 goals against), about 0.5 +/- goals per game across the season so far. The goals against is a bit inflated with 3 empty net goals against so far this year, so I'll argue defense isn't the issue. Lundkvist, I think has been ever so slightly off his performance compared to last year as well, which may account for the other 2.5 goals or so this year.

So offense then, blame Torts and the system? I would say no. The Rangers have actually been playing more of an offensively focused game this year if you look at shots.

Shots per game = 30.2 (8th in NHL) / Shots per game 2012 = 28.5 (20th in NHL)

Shots against per game = 28.7 (16th in NHL) / Shots against per game 2012 = 27.8 (6th in NHL)

The team has actually inverted its position in the league in terms of shorts for and against, while they aren't quite playing like Tampa Bay, some focus has shifted to getting shots from stopping shots. And there is not an across the board reduction in performance, but I'll show that later.

Blame the trade for Nash, and lack of depth? This is half true, yes the Rangers have a drop-off after the top lines in terms of actual production, but in terms total points things are pretty equal to last year.

Nash, Pyatt, Miller, Asham, Halpern = 103 pts projected / 110 points 2012

Anisimov, Dubinski, Fedotenko, Prust, Rupp = 108 pts projected / 112 points 2012

While the guys who are gone are doing ever so slighty better, it is a somewhat unfair comparison as they have played more total games this season (and Prust/Rupp have performed beyond last season's totals). Basically, Nash is projected to get just under the amount of points of Anisimov. Dubinski, and Fedotenko combined, which opens up space for someone like Miller to get time on the squad, plus you get a go-to guy in shoot outs (although surprisingly Anisimov leads the league in shoot out goals, in spite of a slow season otherwise). With Nash, the team is able to consolidate potential scoring in late game situations, get someone who makes goals from one-on-one skill, and generates opportunities (currently third in the league in shots/game).

So where is the issue? In terms of individual performances compared to last year's pace:

Biggest reductions in terms of percentage of projected points in comparison to last year's total:

Boyle - 23% (Projected - 6 pts / 2012 - 26 pts)

Gaborik - 66% (Projected - 50 pts / 2012 - 76 pts)

Richards - 67% (Projected - 44 pts / 2012 - 66 pts)

Del Zotto - 71% (Projected - 29 pts / 2012 - 41 pts)

Callahan - 75% (Projected - 41 pts / 2012 - 54 pts)

So same guys, same system, but less points. Boyle I'll admit has probably suffered from the depth issue, but he wasn't exactly the offensive engine of the team. Callahan has had to deal with shifting lines so there is a bit of an excuse. Del Zotto is probably hurting from the powerplay woes. Which leaves Gaborik and Richards, the offensive core, stuck in a slump.

But is it a system problem? On the flipside guys are also performing better than last year in the system

Hagelin - 123% (Projected - 47 pts / 2012 - 38 pts)

Nash - 114% (Projected - 67 pts / 2012 - 59 pts)

Stepan - 109% (Projected - 56 pts / 2012 - 51 pts)

Staal - 644% (Projected - 32 pts / 2012 - 9 pts) - Hopefully he can make it back, not sure if this stat should really count as he didn't have much of a season last year.

Everyone else is pretty much within a point of their pace from last season. So to came back to the initial point about team scoring and the team being 9 goals off pace from last year. The 5 guys above are 15.6 goals below where they should be to match last season's individual goal totals, of which 10.4 goals are from Gaborik and Richards falling behind last year's pace. The question is whether this is a statistical slump caused by injury or the short season, a decline in player abilities, or some other flaw in the way the Rangers are playing. But either way I don't see the reduction in scoring as a team wide phenomenon, it is more localized and probably not as big as many may think compared to last year.

So one final question is it just dumb puck luck?

This season:

2.29 goals for/game 30.2 shots for/game = 7.58% team shooting

2.36 goals against/game 28.7 shots against = 8.22% team shooting

And 2012:

2.72 goals for/game 28.5 shots for/game = 9.54% team shooting

2.22 goals against/game 27.8 shots against = 7.99% team shooting

So far every percentage is not going the Rangers way. Whether that is bounces, being in the right place at the right time, offensive pressure, or just finishing opportunities I'm not sure. But hopefully there is a return to statistical norm sooner rather than later.


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