Are these Rangers the real deal?
The numbers tell the story.
By the Numbers: Evaluating the Rangers
The Good: Nearing the halfway point of the season, the New York Rangers are in a great position to make the Playoffs for the first time since 2016-17. On the fortunate side, the Rangers have had one of the lowest number of games lost to injury, allowing the team to put their most competitive roster on the ice most games. But putting luck aside, they’ve put up some pretty big improvements when compared to recent seasons.
The Rangers currently sit at a respectable 6th in the league in Point Percentage (.692). While many factors contribute to this strong position, there are three main numbers that tell the story. First, the Rangers sit 2nd in the league in Goals Against per Game (2.44), in large part due to stellar goaltending by Igor Shesterkin (.939 Save Percentage). Also, their special teams have been outstanding, with the team sitting at 10th in Power Play Percentage (23.2%) and 3rd in Penalty Kill Percentage (85.6%).
Otherwise, the team sits at 2nd in Win Percentage When Trailing After 1 Period (.429), meaning the team is capable of coming back from an early deficit. And finally, the team is 4th in Blocked Shots per 60 Minutes (15.29), which indicates a willingness to sacrifice and contribute on the defensive side of the puck. Combined, the Rangers are doing a lot of things right, making it seem likely that they’ll punch their ticket to the Playoffs this year.
The Bad: That being said, it’s one thing to make the Playoffs, but it’s another to go deep and compete for the Cup. While the team is doing a lot right, there are some underlying numbers that make the Rangers seem like less of a lock for a Conference or Stanley Cup Final.
To start, while their Goals Against is strong, their Goals For per Game is only 2.85, putting them at 19th in the league in that category. Put another way, this leads to a Goal Differential per Game of +0.41, which puts them at a middle-of-the-pack 12th. But the numbers start to get concerning when you look at the team’s Net Shots per Game, -3.3 (23rd), meaning they’ve consistently been outshot in games this season. And even worse, the team is one of the worst-performing in the league late in games, sitting at 24th in Win Percentage When Leading After 2 Periods (.765) and 21st in Win Percentage When Trailing After 2 Periods (.100). Does this mean that the team will buckle when the playoff pressure is on?
The Verdict: As stated earlier, the Rangers look like a near lock to make it to the Playoffs for the first time in five years. Beyond good goaltending, a lot of this turnaround can be attributed to the team’s new Head Coach, Gerard Gallant, who has done a fantastic job of establishing new systems and getting the most out of his personnel.
That being said, with the 3rd-youngest Season-Opening Roster (Age 26.05), inexperience and late-game struggles are likely to bite the team when the times get tough. As a result, and as alluded to earlier, don’t expect the Rangers to make it further than the second round this postseason. Next year and onward, however, don’t be surprised if the Rangers become a perennial Cup contender.