Vladimir Malakhov

Getting Defensive

We all know how bad the Rangers defense has been…particularly over the last three games where they’ve let in an astonishing 15 goals.  Much of the problems have been attributed to the Ranger defensemen and in recent days Brian Leetch, Vladimir Malakhov and Peter Smrek have been attacked vigorously for contributing to another weak start to the season.

But who really is to blame?  We decided to go inside the statistics for the Ranger blueliners and try to separate the fact from the fiction and maybe get some insight as to why the Rangers have been so bad defensively.  Certainly some blame can be put on the heads of the forwards and goaltending, but in most cases it is ultimately the responsibility of the defenseman to keep the opposition from getting the shot on net…

We went through and broke out the minutes played and scoring against the defensemen into Even Strength (ES), Power Play (PP),  Short Handed (SH) and Total Goals (T).  We then looked at how long a player had to be on the ice before a Goal was scored and how long before an Even Strength Goal was scored.

The final three columns are the Average amount of ice time the player is on the ice and the percentage as it relates to total amount of ice time available or on the ice when a goal was scored.

PlayerMinsESMPPMSHMESPPSHTMins / GoalMins / ES GoalAvg Mins% On Ice% On Ice for Goal
Van Impe113:2879:1519:504:23420618:5528:2218:5437.5731.58

Note: Leetch and Malakhov have 2 PPG that came on 5 on 3

Looking through the statistics we immediately see that the more offensively minded defensemen are having trouble.  This comes as no surprise of course, but it’s particularly troubling to see how many Berard and Malakhov have given up in specific situations.

Berard who has been on the ice for nine Even Strength goals is possible the victim of being overworked after such a short training camp.  It should also be noted that adjusting to his eye injury and the fact that he is still learning his trade should also be taken into account.

On the other hand Malakhov’s ten Power Play goals, including two when the team was down two men, is a cause for concern.  Particularly when you consider that he is paired with Brian Leetch who has been on the ice for eight himself.

The younger defenseman Smrek and Kloucek have struggled also, though Kloucek has the excuse of missing camp and coming off a major knee injury.

One of the few bright spots perhaps, is the play of Dave Karpa who has only been on the ice for a total of four goals against.  Van Impe is another that has played better than expected and has been one of the steadier defenseman in this traumatic time.

Certainly these stats in and of themselves do not represent the full story when it comes to defensively play.  We did not take into account the forwards that were on the ice, nor did we look at other aspects such as Blocked Shots and Hits.  But with these stats I hope you have a little better insight into the problems surrounding the Rangers defense.

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