Garden Party with Jason Bisnoff takes a dive into a requisite advanced stats look at the young and surprising New York Rangers.
With the New York Rangers being among the surprises of the National Hockey League season thus far, there are several ways to look at and analyze how exactly the team is so exceeding expectations.
The big picture is that entering a Monday game following Thanksgiving weekend against the Ottawa Senators, the Rangers are in the thick of the playoff picture, occupying fourth place in the Metropolitan Division with 26 points, just outside the playoffs if they started today. This standing in the meat of the league’s curve owes mostly in part to a trio of reasons, home-field advantage, a recent win streak, and shootout success.
The Rangers are 9-3 at home, among the best in the league and in stark contrast with a 3-7-2 away record. Additionally, after a miserable 3-7-1 start, they are 9-3-1 since October 30. Finally, they have played in more shootouts than anyone in the league besides the Anaheim Ducks and have somehow gone 4-0.
As is requisite in 2018, the advanced stats can give a deeper picture into what has put the Rangers in a spot to qualify for the postseason just past a quarter of the way into the season.
As it stands, the Rangers have abysmal Corsi numbers, a stat that measures shots attempted and shots against, factoring in shots on goal, missed shots on goal, and blocked shots. This attempts to gauge how much time a team is spending in their offensive versus defensive zone.
After 24 games played, the Rangers are 29th in Corsi out of 31 NHL teams. the problem is not isolated, cropping up in both shots for and against. This also is linked to a resulting imbalance of possession in the offensive zone. The team is 27th in Corsi for per 60 minutes played and 29th in Corsi against per 60 minutes played.
They will need to find a way to both play more in the offensive zone and get more pucks to the net in order to keep themselves in a strong position for the playoffs.
With that imbalance of puck possession and offensive opportunities, the Rangers are keeping themselves relevant by being twelfth in goals against per 60 minutes played. As has happened often over the past decade-plus, Henrik Lundqvist is a big part of the team’s success. He continues to rebound from last year’s down season at the age of 36.
Additionally, the team is sixth in penalty differential, having had nine more powerplays this season than penalty kills. Sitting at 19th in power play percentage, capitalizing on their higher probability of being a man up could help the team take some of the burden off Lundqvist.
Overall, perhaps the most optimistic number is that the Rangers are 12th in PDO, a stat that combines shooting and save percentage to serve as a barometer for how “lucky” a team has been. This number would say that the Rangers current rate of scoring and stopping opponent’s from scoring is relatively sustainable. This bodes well for those who want to see the Rangers return to playing hockey in late April.