In an outstanding piece over at NHL.com, Dave Lozo looks at why the Rangers have struggled this season by breaking down their offseason transactions, the disappearance of Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik as well as safe becoming death for the Blueshirts.
However, one area that Lozo explored that I found the most interesting is that maybe the Rangers vastly over-achieved last season and what we're seeing now is closer to what this team really is. Lozo uses hockey advanced statistic to prove his theory…
"From Oct. 31 to Jan. 10, the Rangers went 24-6-1, picking up 49 of a possible 62 points. That translates into 130 points over an 82-game season, and that stretch — along with a 10-4-1 roll that followed — cemented the Rangers as one of the NHL's top teams.
A look at the Rangers' PDO during that 46-game clip shows it may have been more of a mirage than a trend that was likely to continue. PDO is a five-on-five statistic tracked by Gabriel Desjardins of behindthenet.ca, and it is defined by Desjardins as "the sum of on-ice shooting percentage and on-ice save percentage while a player was on the ice. It regresses very heavily to the mean in the long-run: a team or player well above 1000 has generally played in good luck and should expect to drop going forward and vice-versa."
During that 34-10-2 stretch, the Rangers had a PDO of 1033, an unsustainable figure that regressed over the final six weeks of the season, when they finished 14-11-2 in their final 27 games. The leaders in PDO in 2011-12, the Vancouver Canucks and Boston Bruins, finished the 82-game season at 1014.
Last season, the Rangers had a PDO of 1010, the sixth-best mark in the NHL and the best under Tortorella. The numbers indicate that last season was more of an outlier than an indicator that the Rangers were ready to take the next step this season."
Lozo then adds…
"With the Rangers scoring fewer goals this season, it doesn't take an advanced statistic expert to figure out that translates into more losses. But a look at the Rangers' PDO numbers the past four seasons show maybe everyone should have been ready for this type of season.
The Rangers' PDO in 2009-10, when the club missed the postseason by a point with a 38-33-11 record, was 1005, ninth in the League. In 2010-11, when the Rangers qualified as the No. 8 seed with a 44-33-5 mark, their PDO was 1007, seventh in the League. This season, the Rangers' PDO is 1003, good for 11th. That's a sign there is room from improvement based on past data, but those figures are based on an 82-game season, not a 48-game season. That leaves less time for the numbers to correct themselves."
…i'm not the biggest fan of advanced statistics. I'd much rather form an opinion on a team based on what I'm watching as I can add factors such as emotion and momentum which cannot be calculated in these type of analytics. Having said that, these numbers are hard to ignore and have me concerned that the Rangers aren't going to be able to turn this around.
…i don't think there's a Rangers fan among us who didn't think the Blueshirts overachieved last season, but despite these stats I'm still at a complete loss as to why this team has lost the drive and intensity that was the identity of last year's team. I know they lost a large chunk of their heart and soul this offseason, but it's not like there aren't any holdovers. (You might have heard of this Callahan guy). Maybe instead of showing the team tape of their mistakes, Torts should start showing them tape of last season.
Greg Wyshynski at Puck Daddy has more on this here.