As a refresher, here is the formula for Game Score.
Player Game Score = (0.75 * G) + (0.7 * A1) + (0.55 * A2) + (0.075 * SOG) + (0.05 * BLK) + (0.15 * PD) – (0.15 * PT) + (0.01 * FOW) – (0.01 * FOL) + (0.05 * CF) – (0.05 * CA) + (0.15 * GF) – (0.15* GA)
Goalie Game Score = (-0.75 * GA) + (0.1 * SV)
It should be noted that Corsi and Goal stats are 5v5 adjusted, and all other stats include all situations. Per game represents average Game Score per game which is calculated by taking Total Game Score and dividing it by number of games played.
With that said, here is a look at a Rangers’ squad that went 7-2-1 during this stretch:
Good: Ondrej Pavelec, Henrik Lundqvist, Mika Zibanejad, Mats Zuccarello
Fine: Chris Kreider, Jesper Fast, Pavel Buchnevich, Brady Skjei, Michael Grabner, J.T. Miller, Rick Nash, Kevin Shattenkirk, Boo Nieves, Jimmy Vesey, Kevin Hayes, Brendan Smith, Nick Holden, Paul Carey, David Desharnais
Poor: Marc Staal, Ryan McDonagh, Steven Kampfer
Usually I go into each category and do a mini breakdown, but want to try something different here. I want to look at some overarching trends and try and make some sense of things.
During this stretch the Rangers went 7-2-1 which was the fifth-best record by winning percentage during the recorded period. The previous stretch saw the Rangers go 7-3-0, but the team looked much better in that run than they did over the last 10.
Regardless the team is 14-5-1 in the last 20 games which is very good in terms of keeping up in the standings. What I worry however is that the Rangers are headed for a period of turbulence that could significantly impact their chances of making the playoffs.
I don’t say this to be all doom and gloomy, but a quick look at the standings shows how slim the margin of error is.
1.) PDO is a helluva drug
During this period the Rangers’ PDO was a “league best” 105.9. This was driven primarily by a shooting percentage of 12.07, that was second-best overall in the recorded period to the Washington Capitals who shot 12.23%. The team finished first in terms of save percentage, with a 0.938; the Nashville Predators finished second with a save percentage of .931.
PDO is generally a good barometer of repeat-ability. The 2013-14 Colorado Avalanche are a popular example as they rode a PDO wave going from worst to first in the span of a year picking up 52 wins and 112 points, only to regress hard finishing with point totals of 90, 82 and 48 in the following three seasons.
While it is a good thing that the Rangers are racking up wins, they can only keep it up for so long. Seven out of 10 wins is solid, but the Rangers achieved it in a way that isn’t sustainable. Henrik Lundqvist has the ability to play out of his mind, but I don’t expect the Rangers to shoot 12% or better for the remainder of the season.
TL/DR: The Rangers are in a precarious situation winning games they probably should be losing. It is also making things feel better than they actually are and a crash is bound to come which will totally harsh the mellow.
2.) Shots, Shots, Shots, Shots.... Against Everybody
The one overarching trend of this charts is Corsi differential, and holy $h!t did the Rangers bleed them. The worst offenders were:
- Ryan McDonagh -60
- Marc Staal -55
- David Desharnais -41
- Michael Grabner -37
- Jimmy Vesey -37
To be clear, the Rangers haven’t been a good possession team under Alain Vigneault, but this recent stretch was brutally bad, and the team still won 7/10 games. What is going to happen when luck isn’t on the Rangers’ side?
It is going to be ugly as all hell and some people will be surprised. Winning can cover up the most sinister of sins, but at the end of the day there is a moment of looking in the mirror. If the Rangers have another disappointing playoff run, many people will look for what went wrong. I am here to say that what’s going on right now is likely what will be behind the team’s downfall.
The only player with a positive differential was Mika Zibanejad, and he appeared in just four games. The next best player was Pavel Buchnevich at -8. Every other player was in double digit negatives.
TL/DR: Houston, we have a problem.
3.) The Rangers Really Miss Mika Zibanejad
Mika Zibanejad became the Rangers’ number one center by default when Derek Stepan was traded to the Arizona Coyotes. The Rangers made it official by signing him to a $26.75 million extension. It is fair to say there was confidence that Zibanejad was the guy for the job, but it is also fair to say that his importance to the team was potentially undersold. Dare I say that Zibanejad is the straw that stirs the drink?
That much is very true in terms of the power play as the man-advantage is 18 of 81 (22.2%) with Zibanejad and 3 of 22 (7.33%) without him.
The line of Zibanejad with Pavel Buchnevich and Chris Kreider has the makings of being a very successful top line for years to come. In 24 games the trio has spent 171:31 5v5 minutes together, with a CF% of 55.74 and a SF% of 56.52. Unfortunately the goals haven’t always come as the trio has a SCF% of 54.55 and a paltry GF% of 33.33. The line has been very unlucky and has a collective PDO of 93.8 which suggests that it is going to breakout soon and it will be in a big way.
David Desharnais has replaced Zibanejad in the interim and the line has gone on a PDO bender. That line’s 110.3 PDO is just unrealistic and isn’t going to last. What’s more indicative is that line’s CF% of 40.13, a SF% of 41.18, a SCF% of 50. But their GF% is up at 71.43. Basically, the underlying metrics are just bad, but pucks are finding a way in. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
TL/DR: Overall the team really misses Mika Zibanejad, and if you didn’t already please read this piece from Pat.
The Rangers were a shootout win away from going 8-2-0. Ondrej Pavelec had one of the best games of his career against the Dallas Stars, as he stopped 44 of 45 shots in a game that was clearly the Rangers’ worst of the season.
It was the second game in a row for Pavelec in which he made 40 or more saves, as he stopped 41 shots in a victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on December 5. He has appeared in just eight games on the year (five starts and three relief appearances), or just 25% of all games played to this point. It’s just a maddening situation that will likely result in a tired Henrik Lundqvist when the games matter most.
Speaking of Lundqvist, he had a very good stretch in this period with a record of 6-1-0 in eight starts a 2.04 goals-against average and .936 save percentage overall, and a 2.11 goals-against average and .935 save percentage 5v5.
TL/DR: The Rangers have played only 39% of their games on the season, and Lundqvist is already 47% of the way to reaching his total appearance total from last season.
Through 32 #NYR team games, Lunqvist is projecting to play the most minutes in a season since he was 28/29 years old— HockeyStatMiner (@HockeyStatMiner) December 16, 2017
(Projecting for ~3,900 TOI at current rate... would be most since 2010-11 when he played 4,007 minutes in 68 games)
And still yet the same Lundqvist who will, barring qualification, be expected to go 16-10 from mid-May deep into June— HockeyStatMiner (@HockeyStatMiner) December 16, 2017
The team doesn’t have to lean on Pavelec, but Alain Vigneault needs to be better when it comes to goalie rotation. A prime example is Pavelec playing amazing against Dallas, but Lundqvist going on to start against Ottawa, the Los Angeles Kings and then Boston Bruins.
The Rangers are winning games, but they’re basically in survival mode. This shouldn’t be discounted by any means, however, it is important to realize that the longer this style continues, the bigger the bubble becomes. Eventually bubbles burst, and there will be consequences. Hopefully the front office is ready for this, and is in the frame of mind to maximize assets if and when things go sideways.
All stats via Natural Stat Trick. Support their Patreon if you can. All-season stats were captured before 12/15/2017 game against Boston Bruins.