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Rangers By The Numbers Game Preview: Rangers vs. Avalanche

The Avs hate the puck and don't want it. Patrick Roy is my favorite coach.

Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Avalanche vs Rangers coverage

Time Thursday, 7:00 EST
Season Series 0-0
Last Meeting 
The Enemy Mile High Hockey Scoring Leaders

R. Nash 12-5-17
M. Duchene 4-6-10

7-6-2 SEASON RECORD 4-8-5
16 Points 13
11th Conference Position 14th
Won 1
Streak Lost 2
2.87 (10th)
Goals For Per 60 (GF60)
2.29 (26th)
2.93 (22nd)
Goals Against Per 60 (GA60)
3.18 (25th)
14.3 (21st) Power Play % 12.9 (25th)
80.8 (14th) Penalty Kill % 87.3 (5th)
48.5 (22nd) Faceoff Win % 48.4 (23rd)
11.7 (21st) PIM / GP 12.4 (23rd)
31.5 (7th) Shots For / GP 28.6 (24th)
30.0 (17th) Shots Against / GP 35.8 (29th)
49.59 (17th) Score Adjusted Fenwick For % 43.44 (29th)
50.7 (15th) 5v5 Close Corsi For 42.6 (29th)
2.96 (2nd) 5v5 Goals For / 60 2.11 (21st)
2.45 (19th)
5v5 Goals Against / 60 2.89 (26th)
+6 (7th)
5v5 Goal +/-
-10 (27th)
51.32 (14th) 5v5 Close OZS % 50.14 (17th)
9.49 (3rd) 5v5 Shooting % 7.56 (20th)
91.62 (18th) 5v5 Save % 91.61 (19th)
101.1 (10th) PDO 99.2 (22nd)

M. Kostka +5.95

M. Zuccarello +5.33

5v5 Corsi Rel % Leaders

(min 50 min)

G. Landeskog +9.70

R. O'Reilly +7.73

T. Glass -6.90

D. Girardi -5.08

5v5 Corsi Rel % Anchors

(min 50 min)

N. Guenin -8.97

M. Cliche -8.85

R. Nash 4.53

M. St. Louis 2.93

5v5 Points / 60 Leaders

(min 50 min)

A. Tanguay 2.08

J. Iginla 2.02

Home Sweet Home

Something that has gone relatively unnoticed this season, amid all of the doom and gloom beset upon us by the early injury bug, has been the relatively favorable schedule. Ten out of the first fifteen games have been home games. This is in stark contrast to last season, where the team literally didn't have a home barn to play in until late October.

It is a point worth noting, simply for the fact that so far (and of course I must note "small sample size alert") they have faired better at home than on the road in a number of stats that are correlative to winning.

  • 52.14% home 5v5 close corsi for percentage as compared to 47.96% away.
  • 51.94% home 5v5 close fenwick for percentage as compared to 47.64% away.
  • 3.08 home 5v5 GF/60 vs 2.73 on the road.
  • 2.31 home 5v5 GA/60 vs 2.71 on the road.
  • 31.4 home 5v5 SF/60 vs 30.8 on the road.
  • 9.8% sh% at home. 8.8% on the road.
  • 92.04% sv% at home. 90.8% on the road.

I could go on. About the only thing better on the road is that Rick Nash has a ridiculously unsustainable 5.83 5v5 P/60 and 27.78 sh% away from MSG. At home he manages "just" a 3.94 5v5 P/60 (still tops in the NHL) and shoots at "just" 21.74%.

The Rangers' improved performance at home all comes while their corsi pace (indicative of the number of corsi events per game) has stayed relatively the same. And, peculiarly, they've benefited from a 56.88% road 5v5 close OZS% as compared to 48.21% at home. They aren't necessarily playing any faster or slower, or any more recklessly, or any less in the offensive zone at even strength. They've simply just been under water in the shot attempt battle on the road. It may have something to do with who they have played, but that analysis would take longer than we have here, and probably longer than you have the attention span for. So let's just assume that they have played "better" at home, and thus have benefited from their early home-heavy schedule.

Needless to say, they are getting healthy at the right time. Because the schedule only gets tougher from here.

The Avs Hate The Puck And Don't Want It

Ok. That's probably not a fair characterization. Colorado is a team that really doesn't buy into the philosophies surrounding proxy numbers that reflect possession, nor pushing for increasing shot attempts. The prevailing sentiment coming into this year is that given Colorado's struggles in the shot attempt battle, their overall win totals should be expected to regress. At least so far, there may be something to that.

If you ask Patrick Roy though, its a bunch of nonsense.

"It’s a bit the way we want to play," said Roy in June as he was picking up his Jack Adams. "We’re an offensive team. We’re a team that want to go on offense. We have the speed and the skills up front. We gave up a lot of shots, yes. But it’s not a concern to us."

Also, I love Patrick Roy. He was my second favorite goalie growing up. He is angry. He is a treasure trove of GIFs:

Pats Mad

Roy preaches quality attempts over quantity. Or something. But I am not sure I completely buy the philosophy.

The numbers don't reflect that the Avs produced attempts from high probability areas at any significantly better rate than other teams last season.

And their team defense is not suppressing shot attempts (35.8 per game, second worst in the league and sinking like a stone). They are a mess in the defensive zone at evens, at least in part, because they do not have the puck-moving defensemen to get the thing to their creative and talented forwards. Out of a man to man scheme, this can be a nightmare of clearing off the glass and turning it over, over and over again. Or, it just creates unapproachable gaps between forwards heading up ice and defensemen that are ill-equipped to make outlet and stretch passes. All of this has little to do with the chosen mode of offense.

The win totals have not been there for the Avs, and their Corsi for % is closer to Buffalo than it is other competent teams in the league. Roy is calling out players about sloppy play in their own zone. They have also struggled a bit in shooting percentage. Things haven't been all rainbows and unicorns in Colorado, to say the least. Best to nab two points now while they are stuck far from home. You never know when Nathan MacKinnon and co. will break out.

Key to the Game: Pepper Varlamov

Semyon Varlamov will get the start opposite of Henrik Lundqvist. Despite so-so peripherals, Varlamov has largely picked up where he left off last season. He saves the Avs bacon more often than not because he is so adept at controlling rebounds in front of him, thereby taking away some of the prime opportunities around the net. Further, he is absolutely terrific at tracking play from the high slot and out to defensemen. Where he struggles is when you force play into the corners and behind the net with speed, and then find trailing forwards for one-timers. He absolutely stinks at playing the puck and has a bit of trouble tracking from behind the net to the front.

I actually think that a chip and chase approach does work rather well against the Avs for that reason, and for the reason that it forces their D into retrieval mode, where they simply don't do well. And Varlamov either won't come out to help them, or he will be bad at it. You can bottle them up with a cycle thereafter, and get those one-timer opportunities coming out of the corners and from behind the net.

That isn't to say that the Rangers, or any team, should abandon odd-man rushes and rush opportunities in general. Those will always net favorable scoring chances if they can push play to high probability areas. But it is only to say that Varlamov is really quite good at tracking those and struggles a bit when play is swarming behind and around him.

The Avalanche get criticized a lot for their poor shot suppression. But last season, they did do a decent to above average job of limiting chances from high probability scoring areas (around the net and slot).

Avs suppression 13-14

courtesy of

They lean heavily on Varlamov to make stops on point shots and high slot shots, and do not do particularly well against teams that cycle in from the corners. Pin them down low and go to work.

Expected Lines: Boyles Back!!!

The big news is that Dan Boyle will make his long-awaited return, further shoring up the banged up defense. He will replace Michael Kostka, bumping Kostka to 7th D (and maybe worse if Kaberle proves useful in his Hartford tryout).

It will be interesting to see the kinds of minutes he logs and whether he is feeling the effects of his hand injury. As a play-making defenseman, he will need his full faculties in that regard to do what he can. Regardless, this should be a boost.


Rick NashDerick BrassardMartin St. Louis

Chris KreiderDerek StepanMats Zuccarello

Carl HagelinKevin HayesLee Stempniak

Tanner GlassDominic MooreJesper Fast

Marc StaalDan Boyle

John MooreDan Girardi

Matt HunwickKevin Klein

Henrik Lundqvist


Ryan O'ReillyMatt DucheneAlex Tanguay

Gabriel LandeskogJohn MitchellJarome Iginla

Jamie McGinnNathan MacKinnonDaniel Briere

Cody McLeodMarc-Andre ClicheMaxime Talbot

Nick HoldenZach Redmond

Jan HejdaErik Johnson

Nate GueninTyson Barrie

Semyon Varlamov


Colorado: Shut down the top 6 and the rest falls into place. Their bottom 6 has been pretty darn bad.

Avs Usage 11-13-14


New York: Or, what Tanner Glass saw AV do in the woods that night.

NYR Usage 11-13-14



All graphs created by Axel Fant-Eldh.

Colorado has been doing a bit of line juggling to try to pull themselves out of the "funk" they are in. Below is an overall preview as well as two top lines that have been together and done their best shot attempt generation and best suppression. I am not sure what their line runs will be, but the expected lines above come from their morning skate. So we'll see!

NYR v Avs Axel Graph

nyr v avs 1st lines

Colorado's second line (if they use it) has been their best at suppressing opposing shots, but is not generating attempts at an elite level.

Parting thoughts from Michael Scott:

Tack your score predictions, musings and thoughts on the numbers in the comments homies. Enjoy the game!

Stats compiled from:,, and