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Rangers Radar: Pajuniemi having a big year in Liiga

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Pajuniemi and K’Andre Miller are heating up

NHL: JUN 29 Rangers Prospect Development Camp Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It’s time for another installment of Blueshirt Banter’s Rangers Radar, where we focus the spotlight on trends in performance, production, and collect notes on players in the New York Rangers organization.

Note: stats in this piece are accurate as of 12/4/2019.


New York Rangers

  • Rangers first line center Mika Zibanejad has four points in his first four games since returning from injury. Zibanejad has four multi-point games this year and has been kept off of the score sheet five times in 13 games.
  • Rookie defenseman Adam Fox has six points in his last eight games. Among rookie d-men who have played at least 300 minutes of 5-on-5 hockey this year, Fox’s 0.93 P/60 ranks fourth in the league. Fox had 12 points in 15 games in November after notching two points in the 10 games he played in October.
  • Finnish rookie forward Kaapo Kakko ranks fourth in his rookie class in power play points and primary power play points this season. Kakko ranks second in those categories among rookie forwards, behind Buffalo’s Viktor Olofsson. He has one point — a primary assist on the power play — in his last seven games.
  • Alexandar Georgiev’s 33-save shutout against the Devils was his first of the 2019-20 season. The Devils finished that game with a 1.68 xGF at 5-on-5 compared to the Rangers’ 1.01 xGF. Georgiev earned a shutout despite the Devils enjoying 63.38 percent of the shot share at 5-on-5 and dominating the Rangers with a 66.67 HDCF%. In other words, Georgiev had a very good game. He now has three shutouts in 49 career NHL starts and a .912 save percentage on the season.
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  • Rangers veteran winger Chris Kreider has one goal in his last nine games. Last season, Kreider had 19 goals and six primary assists at 5-on-5. This season he has seven primary points at 5-on-5 through his first 26 games.

Hartford Wolf Pack

  • The Wolf Pack are 0-3-2 in their last five games and have slipped out of first place in the AHL standings. Through 22 games the Wolf Pack have a +3 goal differential at 5-on-5 and a 49.9% shots for percentage (all situations).
  • Steven Fogarty has six points in his last six games. Two of the goals that he scored in that stretch were buried in the Wolf Pack’s recent overtime loss to the Hershey Bears. The captain of the Wolf Pack now shares the team lead in scoring (16 points) with Vinni Lettieri.
  • The Rangers assigned Sean Day to the ECHL to play with the Maine Mariners on Wednesday. Day had two assists in his last 14 games before being sent down. Day, 21, was the 81st pick of the 2016 Draft. He has 18 points in 64 career games in the AHL and this marks the second consecutive season that he has been sent down to the ECHL.
  • Russian defenseman Yegor Rykov could make his AHL debut tonight when the Wolf Pack play the Springfield Thunderbirds. Rykov, 22, is a left-handed defenseman who with three full seasons of KHL experience under his belt. Rykov was injured before the 2019-20 season got underway and is only just now coming off of the IR.
  • Defenseman Joey Keane hasn’t scored a goal since Nov. 2, but continues to contribute to a Wolf Pack team that has definitely suffered since Filip Chytil was recalled to the Rangers. Keane has eight points in his last 12 games — six of which have been assists — and ranks second among AHL rookie defenseman in scoring with 14 points. Vancouver prospect Brogan Rafferty leads the pack with 16 points in 22 games.
  • Swedish center Lias Andersson has two points — both goals — in the five games he’s played since being assigned to the Hartford Wolf Pack. Andersson had six goals in 36 games with Hartford last season.

Other Rangers Prospects

  • Defenseman K’Andre Miller (22nd overall, 2018 Draft) has points in six straight games for the Wisconsin Badgers and is now up to six goals and five assists in 16 games. Miller has failed to register a shot on net in just three games thus far this season and has put four or more shots on net on five separate occasions.
  • Finnish forward Lauri Pajuniemi (132nd overall, 2018 Draft) is having a monster season in Liiga. Pajuniemi leads TPS in goals with 13 in 23 games while averaging 14:23 TOI/GP. He has scored six of his 13 goals on the power play but has also proven to be a difference-maker at even strength. His 51.0 CF% ranks third on the team although it is worth noting that his 96.4 PDO is significantly higher than the two skaters with better shot share numbers on TPS.
  • UMass-Amherst defenseman Zac Jones (68th overall, 2018 Draft) has now played four games without registering a point. Jones started the season with a bang; piling up seven points in the first four games of his freshman campaign. He’s averaging 2.64 SOG/GP, which leads all freshman defenseman in the nation. The 11 points he’s earned through his first 14 games ranks second in the nation among freshman d-men.
  • Russian forward Vitaly Kravtsov (9th overall, 2018 Draft) has one point — a power play goal — in his last seven games playing for Traktor Chelyabinsk in the KHL. Last season, Kravtsov had 21 points in 50 GP with Traktor while averaging 15:31 TOI/GP. This year, he’s averaging 15:46 TOI/GP, which amounts to roughly one more shift per game. It’s worth noting that Traktor hired a new coach, Vladimir Yurzinov, on Nov. 2.

All data courtesy of naturalstattrick.com, hockeyeastonline.com, EliteProspects.com, en.khl.ru, liiga.fi, ahltracker.com, and theahl.com.