The second edition of power rankings came out just a few days ago, but that covered just two games of action. Today I am releasing the third edition so everything is caught up well ahead of the end of week four of the season.
In this stretch of games the Blueshirts faced off against the Calgary Flames, Florida Panthers and Chicago Blackhawks. Through those three games, they went 1-2-0, scored just five goals, and surrendered 10. Their lone win was against the Panthers.
Here is how the players shifted from Week 3 to Week 4.
Alexandar Georgiev — +6
This is more or less a correction for Georgiev who returned from the Hartford Wolf Pack. He was last ranked 20th and at the start of the week his default position was No. 23. Georgiev made one starts vs. the Panthers and made 36 saves on 38 shots. If you consider his last real position it is only a jump of three spots which is fair for one game of action.
Brendan Smith — +5
Smith has looked like a different defender thus far in the season, and this past week did a quality job limiting chances. He finished with a CF% of 53.16 (he was on the ice for 28 shot attempts for and 25 against), a SF% of 52.94 (18 for and 16 against), and a SCF% of 53.33 (24 for and 21 against). His goals share percentage, 25 percent, was one poor number which was a result of being on the ice for three goals against while the Rangers scored just one. Smith logged 42:22 5v5 in this span which was fifth among defenders (Brady Skjei, Neal Pionk, Kevin Shattenkirk and Marc Staal!). He certainly is capable of receiving more ice time and it can be found by taking it away from Marc Staal.
Mika Zibanejad, Kevin Hayes and Kevin Shattenkirk — +4
Zibanejad has regained the top spot on the chart, and that is coming off the heels of a five point week which was the result of three goals and two assists.
The Blueshirts’ number one enter had been unlucky to start the season, and it appeared he just needed to get a few goals in to get rolling. During the three game stretch, the Rangers took 53.85 percent of the scoring chances with him on the ice, (21 for and 18 against), 50 percent of the shots, (20 for and 20 against), and 56.52 of the high danger shot attempts (13 for and 10 against). His possession numbers were a tad low with a CF% of 47.50 (27 for and 29 against), but that isn’t terrible on a team that hasn’t been known for possession. His hot streak is something to keep an eye on, and the Rangers should enjoy it while he keeps it up.
Hayes has just two goals and an assist this season, and he picked up that assist during this period. In the last three games he’s shown that he is ready to turn a corner, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he were to go on a bit of a tear offensively. Hayes led the Rangers with a CF% of 60.44 (55 for and 36 against), had a SF% of 57.50 (23 for and 17 against), a SCF% of 70.83 (34 for and 14 against), and a HDCF% of 76.19 (16 for and 5 against). His PDO during this period was just 94.1, and he certainly deserved some better results.
Shattenkirk received some tough love from David Quinn to start the season in the form of a healthy scratch. The coaching staff felt he wasn’t where he needed to be, and the second-year Blueshirt agreed. He slowly but surely has looked more confident on the ice and is skating better with the puck. Like Hayes, the offense isn’t there yet, but the Rangers should be seeing the fruits of his labor soon.
In this stretch Shattenkirk led the defense with a CF% of 57.58 (57 for and 42 against) and the Rangers took almost 60 percent of the scoring chances and over 65 percent of the higher danger chances with him deployment. His PDO in this stretch was 98.5, and while slightly better than Hayes, he was still a tad unlucky. The Rangers know what to expect from Shattenkirk, and when healthy he’s one of the league’s top offensive defenders. That much was clear last season before he succumbed to his preseason injury and had surgery on his meniscus.
Neal Pionk — +3
In the last edition I wrote —
“Pionk is an intriguing player because he continues to put up points while having some disappointing underlying numbers.”
Not much has changed as Pionk once again tallied three points all while struggling in the possession game. He was ranked 18th of 19 skaters with a CF% of 40.19 (5 for and 23 against) and 16th of 19 skaters with a SF% of 39.29 (22 for and 34 against). Unless Pionk is the next incarnation of Bobby Orr, he isn’t, the offense is going to eventually dry up and the Rangers will be left with a defender who struggles with the puck in their own zone.
I like Pionk a lot and am glad he’s having the success offensively he is, but the best thing for him at this time would be a spot on the third pairing with a dependable partner so he could be developing the other elements of his game. He was second among defenders in 5v5 ice time with 55:22 in this period, and it could only be a matter of time before the bubble bursts on the second year pro. The Rangers could have something in Pionk, and it would behoove them to develop him. Right now his offensive wizardry is covering up his shortcomings, and eventually there will have to be a decision made on how much he should be playing on a nightly basis.
I recommend checking out this thread for some additional thoughts on Pionk’s entire body of work.
Morning #NYR twitter; are we still talking about Neal Pionk because if so I'd like to stir the pot a bit. (1/5) pic.twitter.com/NFezYKD9nN— Rob Luker (@RLuker12) October 26, 2018
Brett Howden — -6
Howden was No. 6 last week, and this may seem like a massive drop. Part of it comes from the fact that Kevin Hayes and Brendan Smith jumped up the list, and the rising of Mika Zibanejad and Mats Zuccarello resulted in some shuffling down. It was an overall chain reaction which saw Howden return to number 12, which is a respectable position for the rookie. Howden picked up a secondary assist in this sequence of games and logged 46:58 of ice time. But his underlying numbers weren’t too positive, as the Rangers conceded more than 66 percent of the shot share with him on the ice and were out chanced (minus-6 scoring chance differential).
Howden’s usage has been more so in a bottom-six role as of late, and he’s seen some time on the power play. He has six points in 11 games, and it is a solid start for someone who wasn’t expected to make the team. Quinn has done a lot of line mixing thus far, and with consistent usage and linemates it will be easier to assess his overall potential with this team.
Pavel Buchnevich — -5
In this stretch of games Buchnevich scored a goal, which was his third of the season.
It was also his fourth point in nine games played. He logged just 38:10 5v5 in this stretch and saw shifts on the third and fourth line which didn’t really help his underlying numbers (45.07 CF%, 42.82 SCF%).
Ideally the Rangers should be giving Buchnevich playing time in the top-six on the right wing, because that is where he has excelled. The team had been playing him primarily on the left wing in these games, and it is an experiment that doesn’t make a ton of sense given the team’s lack of real depth on the right side. Ultimately Buchnevich does need to produce, and I am not absolving him of anything. He’s scheduled to skate with Chytil and Vinni Lettieri (on the fourth line) vs. San Jose, and it will be interesting to see how that trio performs.
Tony DeAngelo — -4
DeAngelo drops down the list from continued inactivity. He did return vs. the Los Angeles Kings, and that performance and any continued appearances on the California trip will be reflected in next week’s rankings.
Chris Kreider, Brady Skjei and Jimmy Vesey — -3
Kreider picked up a lone secondary assist in this period and his drop is a byproduct of Zibanejad, Zuccarello and Smith making jumps on this list. His underlying numbers weren’t concerning (47.95 percent Corsi, 54.05 SCF%), but he lacked the things that show up on a score sheet.
Skjei is logging the most minutes among Blueshirt defenders and receiving tough assignments. Thus far he’s doing his best to keep his head above water, and in this period he sported a CF% of 46.27 (62 for and 72 against), a SF% of 44.78 (30 for and 37 against), and a SCF% of 52.94 (36 for and 32 against). All in all the numbers aren’t that bad, but in this period Shattenkirk and Smith posted better results. Mike recently wrote a piece on Skjei, and I suggest checking it out for an overall look on how he’s played.
In this period Vesey was kept off the board offensively, and he had some middling underlying numbers — the Rangers still conceded more shot attempts with him on the ice (minus-2 differential) and scoring chances (minus-3 differential). He is set to skate on the third line vs. the Sharks alongside Howden and Jesper Fast, and he will remain part on the Rangers’ power play unit.
There hasn’t been many surprises with the Rangers thus far, and they’ve played as expected. Positives would include the rebound of Smith, the offensive production of Zuccarello, and unexpected performance from Howden and Pionk who have six points a piece.
Lundqvist certainly deserves better than a record of 2-6-0, and at some point soon Quinn should really give Georgiev an extended run of games. There’s no reason to put Lundqvist through so many meaningless games, because there is a hope within the next year or so the team will be playing important games with him at the helm.
The next edition will cover the contests vs. the Los Angeles Kings, San Jose Sharks and Anaheim Ducks.
Stats via Natural Stat Trick unless otherwise noted.