Friday, February 27, 2015

Hey! Look Who Is On Top

It was an entertaining game, but frankly I found it hard to distinguish with who was the team shooting for the top and who was the team in the dregs of the NHL. It was hard to believe that the Rangers were 33 points better than the Coyotes. After the 'Yotes took a 3-1 lead after one period it was more baffling. Another early goal, 41 seconds in, and here we go again. Arizona got 17 shots on goal in the first period. Where was the Ranger D? What is it with this quick opening game goals?

But, that was it for the Rangers and Talbot settled down. He made 37 saves, 23 in the last two periods. The Arizona goalie, Mike Smith, had 34 saves and gave up two key goals to Kreider and Stempniak, the game winner, on rebounds he couldn't control. In frustration he shattered his stick after Kreider's goal, which tied the game at three with twelve seconds left in the second period. It wasn't his fault. Kreider torched the Coyote defense.

There is a food fight among Ranger loyalists over Cam Talbot's performance. It is a non-issue. The Rangers haven't collapsed with the loss of The King and in fact have gone 9-1-2 with Talbot and Skapski (one game) in the nets. Sure, Talbot has given up a couple of softies, but haven't all goalies?

The Rangers are now on top of the heap in the Metro, tied in points with the Islanders, having two games in hand. New York, New York. But, it gets to be fun coming up. The Flyers in Philadelphia on Saturday. The NHL's best, Nashville, at home Monday and then the "old rival" Red Wings at Hockey Town on Wednesday. And then.......the Islanders.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Rangers Roundup

Some interesting stuff that caught our eye.

Tom Dianora / Hockey Writers:
Derick Brassard: The Rangers’ Unsung Hero --

Henrik Lundqvist. Rick Nash. Martin St. Louis. Derek Stepan. Mats Zuccarello. Ryan McDonagh. Dan Girardi. Marc Staal. These are the names that come to mind when one generally thinks about the leaders on the New York Rangers, and the top players who drive the team’s success.

There is another player, however, who is second on the team in scoring this season, yet for whatever reason does not receive the same level of attention or praise as these other names. That player is center Derick Brassard...
Steven Loffredo  / Hockey Writers:
Is Cam Talbot a Number 1 Goalie? --
The New York Rangers are 7-1-2 since Cam Talbot took over as starter in place of injured Henrik Lundqvist. Talbot’s record is solid, but the whole experience hasn’t been a cake walk. Now we examine if Talbot’s performance puts him in a position to be considered a number one goalie...
Michael Torsiello  / Hockey Writers:
Rangers Playing Strong in February; Making It Hard on Opponents -- 
This is the first time since the 70′-71′ season that the New York Rangers have had multiple goalies with 4 shutouts in one season since Giacomin and Villemure...
Primer: Get to know new enhanced stats on --

  • SHOT ATTEMPTS (Corsi) -- Puck possession has always been important in hockey, but analysts have proven how valuable it can be. Shot attempts are the best proxy for understanding and quantifying puck possession....
  • UNBLOCKED SHOT ATTEMPTS (Fenwick) -- This is very similar to shot attempts, but with one caveat: Blocked shots are not counted. Shot attempts are three types of shots (shots on goal, missed shots and blocked shots), and unblocked shot attempts are two types of shots (shots on goal and missed shots)... 
  • SPSV% (PDO) -- "Puck luck" is a term that's used with ambiguity in hockey, but by adding on-ice shooting percentage and on-ice save percentage (SPSV%, also known as PDO) it gives us a statistic that measures that concept. The idea was developed by Brian King, who began using it in comments on Barnes' blog under the username PDO.
  • ZONE STARTS -- A coach is unable to choose which players he sends out for a faceoff after his team ices the puck, but there are plenty of other situations when he makes those decisions. And who a coach chooses to deploy in certain situations can offer insight about strategy or willingness to trust a player's defensive acumen...
  • MODIFYING STATISTICS -- A majority of these statistics are viewed primarily in even-strength situations; there are other modifying terms and filters used to gain a further understanding of certain areas of the game. One of these concepts is a "relative" statistic; in this example, shot attempts relative (formerly known as CorsiRel). What this statistic shows is how a player is performing relative to his team's average.
  • RATES -- Much like different players are deployed in different situations based on defensive accountability and strategy, players also receive different amounts of ice time. By using rate statistics, we can view skaters on a level playing field and compare them based on the same criteria...
Though Rick Nash of the New York Rangers didn't finish in the top 40 in goals scored last season, he ranked fifth in even-strength goals per 60. Nash missed time last season because of an injury, playing 65 games, but was one of the most efficient even-strength goal scorers when he was on the ice.

This season, Nash leads skaters in even-strength G/60 by a wide margin and is in contention for the Rocket Richard Trophy. The second name on that list, rookie Mike Hoffman of the Ottawa Senators, might surprise some people.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Cam Ekes Out Shutout Win

It wasn't pretty, but it was a win. Two points, baby, two points. Kevin Hayes who scored the only goal of the game, his 12th, called it a playoff game. Huh? He probably was carried away by his goal. A more thoughtful evaluation was that of Marc Staal: "Probably better watching paint dry." The Rangers got 28 shots on goal, the Flames 21. Never critique a win.

The Rangers are 8-1-2 since Lundqvist went down and are breathing hot and heavy on the Islanders necks. They are two points behind with three games in hand. They are now three points ahead of the Pens in the Metro and have a game in hand. They are only three points behind East Conference leader Montreal with the Rangers having one game in hand. However, the Canadiens have goalie Carey Price a tough nut for the Rangers to crack.

Give the Rangers credit. First, Lundqvist and now Nash go down. Hopefully Nash, neck spasms, will return against the Coyotes Thursday. The Rangers brought up Oscar Lindberg from Hartford and he got all of 8:18 of ice time centering Hagelin and JT Miller. Hopefully the coffee was hot.

With twenty-three games to go it's really down to a game at a time. The Rangers have to hang on til the King comes back and hopefully Nash's injury is minor. So others have to step up. Kudos to Talbot and Hayes who stepped up big last night. Watching paint dry can be painful.

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