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OTG POLL

What do you think of the Rangers season so far?

Quite surprised
Modestly surprised
As expected
Worse than expected
Terrible

Previous Polls
 INJURY REPORT
Vladislav Namestnikov 12/7
Expected to be in the line-up tonight
 
Mats Zuccarello 12/7
Appears as if he will not be in the line-up tonight, but has been rotating in during practice
 
Pavel Buchnevich 12/7
Skating as an extra in practice, close to returning
 
Adam McQuaid 12/7
Is skating in a non-contact jersey as he edges closer to a return
 
Kevin Shattenkirk 12/11
Left the arena with his arm in a sling, and likely won't know the extent of the injury until Wednesday
 
Cody McLeod 11/23
Broken hand will keep out to about New Year's eve
 
  MORE INJURY NEWS...
SEPTEMBER 24TH, 2014
CAPTION THIS
Read the submissions so far and see if you can come up with the best caption for today's photo

Best Of:
2014-15 ~ 2013-14
2012-13 ~ 2011-12
2010-11 ~ 2009-10

RUMOR MILL

Tuesday - October 25th

Either Josh Jooris (New York Daily News) or Dylan McIlrath are likely to find themselves on waivers when Pavel Buchnevich returns from back spasms.

The team is expected to cut the roster down to 22 players, and as such one of the two will need to be either moved or sent down.

  MORE RUMORS...

Question Of The Day

September 29th, 2017

How many rostered players were on the ice for opening night 2016-17

Answer...
  BIRTHDAYS

Bill MacKenzie - 1911
Clint Smith - 1913
John McKenzie - 1937

  SEARCH BIRTHDAYS
  RANDOM RANGER

JOHN MCINTYRE
(1992-1993)
  Born: Apr 29 - 1969  
  Pos: Center  
  GP: 11  
  G: 1  
  A: 0  
  Pts: 1  
  PIMs: 4  
 
Antti Raanta will start in Boston

Time To Take This Show On The Road
Posted by Toby Ivey ≡ 3:12:29 PM - November 4, 2016

The Rangers are off to a flying 8-3-0 record, and are second in the league with 16 points.  They've won six of their last seven, and have dismantled some good teams in the process, including the Capitals, Lightning, Blues and the surprising Oilers last night.  In the process they've put together a 7-1-0 record at MSG, with the only a 2-1 defeat to the Detroit Red Wings.

By contrast the Blueshirts have only had to play three games on the road, with .  Their 1-2-0 record is identical to the Chicago Blackhawks, who along with the Rangers, have played the fewest road games of any team in the league.

The heavily weighted schedule has no doubt been a boon to the team early in the year.  MSG has become a tough place for opponents to win in the past three seasons, with New York posting a 59-22-9 record going back to the 2014-15 season.  On the road over the same period, they've been a respectable 48-30-7 though most of that was a result of their team record 28-11-2 in 2014-15.

With the schedule the way it is - only seven of the remaining thirtten games this month are on the road - the Rangers have a chance to continue to build momentum and avoid the slump that saw their fast start undone a year ago.

If you will recall, the Blueshirts raced out to a 16-3-2 record in their first twenty games, but finished out the calendar year with a 6-6-2 streak that undone much of their good work.  The change in pace ultimately pushed them into the middle of the playoff race, and a first round match-up against the red hot Penguins.

Certainly this year's team has a number of differences, most obviously lead by an offense that is firing on all cylinders.  The team leads the league with 4.09 goals per game, is generating three more shots per game than last season, and has a +20 goal differential, good enough for a share of the league lead with Montreal.  Note: 5 of the 45 goals scored were into an empty net, and excluding them would drop the average down to 3.63 a game, still healthy.

The ability for the team to score across the line-up has been a key component of the Rangers success, with no fewer than eight players on pace for 29 goals or more in the season.  Nine players are on pace for 60+ points this season, which would be unprecedented on the team.

And remarkably, there's still room for improvement.  Mika Zibanejad has just two goals in his first eleven games as a Ranger, and has had more than his share of near misses.  Derek Stepan has no goals yet, unusual for a consistent 20 goal scorer, and on the blueline only last year's maligned duo of Marc Staal and Dan Girardi have tallied for a total of three goals in the season to date.

Despite these inidividual areas, history tells us the overall pace is not sustainable, and with 39 of the remaining 71 games on the road, you'd expect some moderation to occur over the course of the season.

Which brings us to the defensive side of the equation.  Remarkably the Rangers sit fifth in the league in goals allowed, with just 2.27 goals given up each game, even while they've allowed three or more goals in five of the contest to date.  To put that into perspective, they allowed three or more in just five of the first twenty one games last season when you exclude shootout losses.

In two of those instances - against the Islanders and Sharks - the Rangers already had three goal leads and perhaps eased up a little allowing their opposition to add one or two bonus goals, while two others came against offensively gifted teams in the Capitals and Oilers.

Last year's hot start was largely backstopped by the performance of Henrik Lundqvist, who stopped an impressive 94.9% of the shots he faced, while allowing just 1.67 goals a game.  This year he's below his career average with just a 91.3% save percentage and a close to career average of 2.24 goals a game.

The difference is mostly a direct reflection of the way Lundqvist is playing, and if the offense should drop off, it would become an area of concern.  That's not to say it's all on Lundqvist, the Rangers have depressed the shot count from 30.4 last year to 26.6 this year, ranking them fourth in the NHL, which often has the effect of hurting a goalie's save percentage.  They're also generating more offensive pressure in the oppoition zone, with a three shot improvement the other way, keeping the puck out of the defensive zone for longer periods.

Add to that, a league leading fewest penalty minutes per game - 6:38 - which is almost two minutes fewer per game, and a forward unit that is better committed to coming back, and the Rangers are finding a way to get the job done.

There's little question that the Rangers - and Lundqvist - will be looking for improvements as the ratio of road games increases.  The pressure will increase on the road to play more conservatively to counter the modest advantages that a home team has.

If Lundqvist, and Raanta to a lesser extent, can ramp up the goaltending, then the team has an insurance policy that can sustain themr through the inevitable return to a more sustainable scoring level.  Lundqvist has done it before, but at 34 years old, it's getting to the time of his career when people start wondering how much longer he can be an elite goaltender.

The Rangers depth on offense has relieved the pressure early on, and may yet represent his best chance at the elusive title he came to North America to secure.



Profile of the Author:
Has been an active follower of the New York Rangers since the 1996-97 season. Began OutsideTheGarden.com in 2001, and has continued to collect data and provide analysis on the team through to the current day.

 Additional stories from Toby Ivey:


YOUR COMMENTS

 
December 10th, 2018
TAMPA BAY TIMES FORUM
  1 2 3 T
2 0 1 3
1 2 3 6
FIRST PERIOD: 1. NYR Hayes (Strome,Namestnikov) NYR 1-0   2. TBL Stamkos (Hedman,Miller) Tied 1-1   3. NYR Hayes (Vesey) NYR 2-1    SECOND PERIOD: 4. TBL Stamkos (Hedman,Point) Tied 2-2   5. TBL Mcdonagh (Point,Kucherov) TBL 3-2    THIRD PERIOD: 6. TBL Cirelli (Cernak) TBL 4-2   7. TBL Stamkos (Palat,Coburn) TBL 5-2   8. NYR Fast (Chytil) NYR 3-5   9. TBL Cirelli (Killorn,Miller) TBL 6-3   
Boxscore Game Thread
  HEADLINES
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More news...
  NEXT GAMES
Friday Dec 14th
7:00pm - Home

Sunday Dec 16th
12:30pm - Home

Tuesday Dec 18th
7:00pm - Home

Saturday Dec 22nd
7:00pm - Road

Sunday Dec 23rd
7:00pm - Home

Thursday Dec 27th
7:00pm - Home

Saturday Dec 29th
7:00pm - Road

Monday Dec 31st
7:00pm - Road

Complete Schedule
  STANDINGS
  Team GP W L OT Pts  
  Lightning 32 24 7 1 49  
  Maple Leafs 30 20 9 1 41  
  Sabres 30 17 9 4 38  
  Capitals 29 17 9 3 37  
  Bruins 30 16 10 4 36  
  Blue Jackets 29 16 11 2 34  
  Canadiens 30 15 10 5 35  
  Islanders 29 14 11 4 32  
  Penguins 29 13 10 6 32  
  Red Wings 31 14 13 4 32  
  Rangers 30 14 13 3 31  
  Hurricanes 28 13 11 4 30  
  Senators 31 13 14 4 30  
  Panthers 28 11 11 6 28  
  Flyers 28 12 13 3 27  
  Devils 29 10 13 6 26  
FULL STANDINGS

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