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.
The Rangers went 5-3-2 in this stretch and picked up 12 of 20 potential points.
Great: Ondrej Pavelec
Good: Henrik Lundqvist, Vinni Lettieri
Fine: Chris Kreider, Mats Zuccarello, J.T. Miller, Jimmy Vesey, Michael Grabner, Pavel Buchnevich, Kevin Hayes, David Desharnais, Mika Zibanejad, Paul Carey, Brady Skjei, Ryan McDonagh, Marc Staal
Poor:Brendan Smith, Rick Nash, Nick Holden, Jesper Fast, Kevin Shattenkirk
I am going to continue the format of looking at overarching trends instead of a straight play by play of the individual results behind each player’s game score.
During this stretch the Rangers’ record of 5-3-2 translates to a winning percentage of .500 which was 18th among all NHL teams during this time period, and 15th in points percentage with .600. All things considered it was a below average stretch of play.
1.) Shots, Shots, Shots, Shots.... Against Everybody Redux
For the second consecutive 10-game period the Rangers inability to limit chances was out of control like a runaway freight train. The worst offenders this time include:
- Nick Holden -60
- Ryan McDonagh -51
- Kevin Shattenkirk -49
- Kevin Hayes -37
- Jesper Fast -35
As there were only two players in single digit negative, J.T. Miller (-5) and Chris Kreider (-2). Vinny Lettieri was a +1 in his one game against Detroit, Mika Zibanejad was a +3 in seven games played and Marc Staal was a booming +14. Staal had quite a good stretch of games, as he was on for six goals for and only on for four against with a net differential of +2.
The Rangers are continuing to employ a strategy of playing a rush game instead of gaining possession and setting up in the zone. This speed game is something Vigneault has used for the majority of his coaching career, but it has seemingly become less effective as the league has shifted to more of a speed and skill game. In other words, Vigneault was playing ahead of the curve and hasn’t adjusted as much now that the rest of the league has caught on. The Vancouver Canucks were an anomaly in the West for years as a team that prioritized speed and skill while others played a heavier, pugnastic game.
For context, here’s the Rangers performance in terms of pace and shot share.
"Pace"— Sean Tierney (@ChartingHockey) January 8, 2018
Chi, Mtl, Cgy, and Edm have separated from the pack, playing high-event hockey.
Buf, Det, Van, Dal, Min, and Phi play lowest event hockey. For Dal, that's because they squeeze the life out of their opponents. pic.twitter.com/CRKcuhNMGd
Shot share— Sean Tierney (@ChartingHockey) January 8, 2018
Chi is playing high-paced hockey but also dominating the shot share, so that's fun. Dal is playing low-paced but dominating too.
Ari has been awful all year and Nyr is mounting a challenge for bottom spot. pic.twitter.com/LxwUUN3r63
2.) Kevin Shattenkirk Is Really Struggling
Kevin Shattenkirk got off to a rip roaring start with five goals, 12 assists and 17 points in his first 21 games, while playing 20:56 a night. The second half of his season has been downright dreadful as he has six assists in his last 21 games, while playing 19:52. It has been a rough patch for Shattenkirk, and his defense as a whole has been a bit underwhelming. Despite this struggle, he still finds himself No. 1 in scoring among NYR defensemen and No. 5 on the team as a whole.
This stretch is a down one for Shattenkirk for sure, but a rare one. I pulled Shattenkirk’s career log and looked at stretches of 20-game periods and his production. I looked at periods that didn’t overlap so for example, if Shattenkirk had five points from G21 to G41, I didn’t consider a sample of G17 to G37 in which he had four points.
With that in mind, here are some of the lowest 20-game stretches of his career.
- December 30, 2011 to February 14, 2012: one goal, two assists, three points
- February 10, 2013 to April 19, 2013: two goals, one assist, three points
- January 28, 2014 to January 25, 2014: one goal, four assists, five points
- January 2, 2016 to February 20, 2014: three goals, two assists, five points
- November 15, 2017 to January 1, 2018: zero goals, five assists, five points
The point of this is to say Shattenkirk has been in this position before, and rebounded. There is more than enough time for this to happen, but some changes should be considered.
In Games 31 to 40, Shattenkirk saw the fourth most 5v5 ice time behind Ryan McDonagh, Nick Holden and Brady Skjei. He finished fifth in terms of individual scoring chances with Marc Staal, the lone skater, behind him.
Although he was signed to play on the top pair with McDonagh, Shattenkirk has seen varying usage and has played on all three pairs this season. He’s played with Skjei (424.19), Staal (104.08), Smith (63.09) and McDonagh (53.10). While it seems that Skjei is going to be his primary partner going forward, it may not be the best option for him. Together the pair has a CF% of 46.56, a SF% of 48.08 and a GF% of 51.51. Over the last 10 games they own a CF% of 39.73, a SF% of 39.53 and a GF% of 50.
From a possession standpoint, he was best with McDonagh with a CF% of 53.98, but AV broke it up because the duo was only on for two goals for and on for five against. Fifty three minutes and ten seconds is a really small sample to say “enough of that.” At this point, what is there to lose?
McDonagh is still in a funk trying to score his first goal, so the reuniting of the two could be mutually beneficial. Overall, Shattenkirk is playing poorly and he owns some of that. However, as much as Vigneault shuffles the forwards, for whatever reason he is less than willing to shake up the defense. Part of this comes down to the fact that he likely doesn’t want a pairing of Staal and Holden, because that’s what would happen if he put McDonagh with Shattenkirk and Skjei back with Smith.
Something has to give though, and Shattenkirk isn’t going to be this bad all season long. He is in a major rut and a shakeup would be best for all involved parties.
3.) The Rangers are going to miss Kreider
In the sample above, Kreider was third in scoring with five points in just seven games played. In the ten games prior to that he had five goals and three assists for eight points.
On the whole that is six goals, seven assists and 13 points in 17 games and a points per game average of 0.76. This is significant because in the 20 games prior to that he had five goals and four assists for nine points, or a points per game average of 0.45.
Kreider was diagnosed with a blood clot, and is subsequently having rib resection surgery – a procedure common with those who have thoracic outlet syndrome. Last season, Kreider led the team with 28 goals, so someone is going to have to pick up the slack without him in the lineup. Maybe that can be the duo of Mika Zibanejad and Pavel Buchnevich, but that would require AV to show enough restraint to keep them together again for more than one game.
If not them, Mats Zuccarello continues to go about his business with very little fanfare. There’s a lot I could say about Zucc, but Shayna did a masterful job so go check out her piece if you haven’t already.
4.) Henrik Lundqvist and Ondrej Pavelec Continue to Amaze
This period saw exceptional displays of goaltending from Ondrej Pavelec and Henrik Lundqvist again. Pavelec appeared in one game, where he made 30 saves in a shutout over the Washington Capitals that required overtime and a shootout. His line was 1-0-0 with a GSAA of 1.9.
Lundqvist appeared in the remaining nine, and has appeared in 35 of 42 to date, posting a record of 4-3-2 with a .936 save percentage, a goals-against average of 2.29 and a GSAA of 9.6 (h/t to Cole Anderson (@CrowdScoutSprts) for the GSAA numbers). It is a shame Lundqvist only picked up four wins in this stretch because he was playing out of his mind. The Rangers are back to relying on Lundqvist to be the lone difference maker and that isn’t a winning strategy in the long run.
Here is what I wrote last go around for final thoughts.
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.
Safe to say things haven’t changed for the better, so get ready for a bumpy ride.
Stats via Natural Stat Trick unless otherwise noted. Support their Patreon if you can.