The Rangers’ even strength producers
The Rangers have a 23.1 percent success rate on the power play. Only four teams have scored more goals on the man advantage this year. But hockey games, by and large, are won at even strength.
And, as of the writing of this article, the Rangers have the most five-on-five goals in the league. They also have the sixth-most goals against at even strength in the league.
As we approach the midway mark of the year, I thought it would be worthwhile to take a look at where the Rangers’ goals are coming from at even strength.
For some context, Mats Zuccarello, Derek Stepan and J.T. Miller were the Rangers’ highest-scoring players at even strength last season. And captain Ryan McDonagh led the blue line with 23 even strength points.
The table below contains production counts (from stats.hockeyanalysis.com) during five-on-five (even strength) play.
Rick Nash- Nash’s ability to get pucks on net is something that the Rangers clearly have missed in the nine games (and counting) that he has missed with injury this year. Nash
Michael Grabner- One goal in his last 12 games but Grabner still leads the Rangers in primary points at even strength. It’s amazing to think that he has scored 13 goals at even strength this year. Only Sidney Crosby and Auston Matthews have more.
Mats Zuccarello- Zucc is leading the Rangers in even strength points, which is not surprising given his primary assist count. The Norwegian winger might not be burying many goals, but he’s having a damn good year.
Chris Kreider- Last season Kreider had 29 points at even strength. This year he has 19 points at evens in just 33 games. That $18.5 million contract extension is looking better each and every day. If Kreider can stay healthy he could crush his numbers from last year.
Brady Skjei- Why was Skjei a scratch? Even without the context of possession metrics and shot suppression data, Skjei’s counting stats are exceptional for a rookie defender. He has two more points at evens than McDonagh has this year despite playing 108 fewer minutes.
The table below features data from corsica.hockey and displays the ten most frequent offensive line pairings (at even strength) for the Rangers this season.
It’s hard to remember the impact of Mika Zibanejad to the Rangers’ top six forward group, but his broken leg has greatly weakened the Rangers. And not just on the power play.
The line of Kreider-Zibanejad-Zuccarello was profoundly snake-bitten in the 71 minutes they played together before the Swedish center’s injury. A 2.78 shooting percentage and a 95.88 PDO wasn’t enough to conceal just how good that line was.
Another name that pops up in the table above is Pavel Buchnevich. Remember him? The young Russian practiced in a non-contact jersey last Wednesday. Buchnevich was last in the lineup on November 12th.
In the last three games these have been the Rangers’ most frequent line combinations:
The quality of forwards in the lines above is unbelievable. Especially considering the fact that Nash, Zibanejad and Buchnevich are all out of the lineup. That’s a top-six line.
What the Rangers will look like when they have all three of those players back is something worth getting excited about.