The Daily Thread: Why the New York Rangers Don’t Care About My Axes
bySean Tierney | November 8, 2019
Welcome to The Daily Thread, a place where I’ll draw in charts from my daily team, skater, and goalie stuff at chartinghockey.ca to hone in on a team or trend that catches my eye. Today, it’s the range-breaking Rangers.
How the Rangers Break Ranges but Still Win Occasionally
So, if you follow along with my daily charts, you know that the Rangers have been axis-stretching levels of bad. Yet, the team currently sports a 7-6-1 record, good for not last (sixth) in the Metro. How on earth is that happening?
First, here’s how bad it’s been.
It’s only 14 games, so I’ll bet that NYR can’t keep up their historically bad 42.18 CF%. But that poor shot share is the fourth-worst in the modern stats era, ahead of only the 2007-08 Thrashers (41.9 CF%), the 2013-14 Sabres (41.4 CF%), and the 2014-15 Sabres (36.3 CF%). They’ve stretched the range of both my charts and of our modern understanding of how caved-in a team can be at even-strength.
Their 5v5 expected goal share is a similar story: So bad that it stretches the xG against axis down, skewing the entire xG share chart. Again, NYR’s posted the fourth-worst xG share in the modern stats era. Their 42.11 xGF% is ahead of only the 13-14 Sabres (41.7 xGF%), the 16-17 Coyotes (41.66 xGF%), and the 14-15 Sabres (39.17 xGF%).
It’s historically bad.
Needless to say, NYR trails the league by a wide margin in xG share, as they would trail 392 other teams in the history of modern stats, so it’s no surprise that the dagger’s xG against edge is threatening to slice itself free from every access range I have.
So, how are they surviving to the tune of a break-even-ish record so far?
They’re relying on the oldest trick in the book. Good old PDO boosting.
Perhaps to no one’s surprise, the Rangers have benefited from good fortune both in shooting and save rate. As a team at 5v5, NYR is shooting a shade above 9%, good for eighth-best in the NHL. In net, Lundqvist has been fantastic and Georgiev has been solid too, with the tandem combining for a 5v5 SV% around 92%, good for 15th in the league and just a bit above average.
In a variance-filled sport and operating in a small sample, this 5v5 luck has been enough for NYR to pick a couple of spots and snag a handful of early-season wins. No one can make you give back standings points once you’ve earned them, even if we should be thinking about ways to do this, so NYR gets to happily roll along in oblivious bliss.
One last thing:
The “Game Pace” chart is best understood as a “Which team would be fun to watch when my team’s not playing?” chart. A team can be fun to watch if they generate and allow lots of chances, making their matches enjoyable for a fan with no stake in the eventual results.
This season, you should definitely be tuning into NYR games when you get the chance. Their games feature the highest rate of even-strength xG (mostly not by their doing!) and the second-highest rate of shots too. For a random night streaming, you could find much more dull ways to pass the time.
If you’re a fan of the team, however, you mightn’t find this quite as fun.
See you tomorrow.