Rangers vs Panthers Game 2 Stats & Analytics Recap

The Rangers played an entirely different game from Game 1 last night. They had the same number of high quality shots, but increased their 'mid' quality shots by 13. I understand their xG dropped by nearly 2 goals, but there were a few doorstep chances that the Rangers had in Game 1 that drove that number very high. It was also clear that the Panthers were doing a very good job of blocking shot lanes from the point as they blocked 23 of the 78 shot attempts from the Rangers. Adam Fox, who played extremely well with an on-ice xG of 1.69, had 5 of his 9 shot attempts blocked (xG does not include blocked shots). Despite lower quality chances from the point being blocked, the Rangers still generated enough high quality shots to match Florida's play.

At first glance, I was a little shocked at the xG difference between the Panthers and Rangers in Game 2, Florida winning the battle with 4.14 xG. But, the Panthers nearly doubled their attempts from the slot (only 1 of those chances came in OT), and the real difference seems to be stemming from a slow 3rd period. The Rangers only had 2 of their 8 attempts from the slot or low areas (1 from each). That brings us back to Shesterkin, who I believed to be the MVP of the game. Verhaeghe's goal in the 1st period was a high quality shot, but we can see the many chances in front of the net that Shesterkin stopped, especially chances from Montour and Lundell in the 3rd period. The Rangers goalie finished the game with 3.15 Saves Above Expected, which proves excellent goaltending.

The Rangers lines were not superb by an stretching, but the Panarin-Trocheck-Lafreniere delivered as they need; an xG of of 0.97 is what we want and even need out of that line (at least 1 goal per game and nearly 0 for their opponent). Not too much offense came from the other lines, and as I wrote in the previous recap, the Kreider-Zibanejad duo needs to produce more shots at even strength. Zibanejad, though, had 1.16 on-ice xG and Panarin had 2.24 because of their time on the powerplay. With 12 minutes of penalty time from Florida, the Rangers went 0/4 on the power play, which can be the difference-maker needed to end this game with a regulation win for New York.

It's hard to not want to cut through the numbers for Matt Rempe, as it's been said that he brings an element that can't be caught by analytics, which I am by no means disputing. The Rempe-Goodrow-Vesey line, however, had an xG against of 0.7, which is quite high for the 4th line and the 3rd line had 0.75 xG against. Goodrow's Average SQI against at even strength was 48.18 and was on the ice for 3 high quality shots from the Panthers (same for Rempe).

The Average SQI is a metric to measure the overall shot quality based on the probabilities of the shot being a goal, on-net, or missed. If a shot has an SQI of 50+, the shot is considered high quality. It would not be unsustainable if a line is allowing a high quality chance, on average, when they do allow a shot. While they are not expected to be matching the top line's quality chances, the Rangers should look to limit the quality chances of Florida while the bottom 6 forwards are on the ice.

All that being said, Goodrow's OT heroics are one of the reasons he was signed for a cap hit of $3M+. Not necessarily the goal, but the ability to be at full speed, full capacity and effective late in games during deep playoff runs. But also, the shot was fantastic. It was a mid quality shot with an xG of 0.03, so the result is usually because of the shooter's skill or goaltending. In this case, it's fair to say that Goodrow picked his corner and got it there in no time.

As stated earlier, the Rangers played a much better offensive game than in Game 1, but the defensive side should still look for improvement. Fox and Lindgren were the only net positive xG pair while at even strength, and Sam Reinhart's individual xG of 0.54, let alone his even strength on-ice xG For of 1.31, needs to be limited. The Face-off circle is another area for improvement. It was pretty even throughout the game, with the Rangers ending with a slight edge at 52%. But Trocheck and Wennberg lost 75% of the offensive zone face-offs each, and Mika went 50% in the offensive zone. Game 3 will be a tougher matchup on the road but playing a game similar to Game 2 will put the Rangers in a solid position.