It’s About Quality, Not Quantity

As you guys know, I’m not a huge fancy stats guy. I do, however, feel they are useful in determining how puck possession impacts a game.

The problem I have with using shot attempts to measure which team controlled the game is that it doesn’t factor in the quality of those opportunities.

So while it’s great to see the Rangers dominate on last night’s Fenwick (total shot attempts, minus blocks) chart, as they did for Game 1

Fenwick chart for 2014-04-20 Flyers 4 at Rangers 2


Unfortunately, if you actually watched the game, you know that the Blueshirts far from outplayed the Flyers, as most of their shots looked like this after taking a 2-0 lead…

No angle, no traffic in front and absolutely no chance of finding the back of the net. Now don’t get me wrong, Emery had a solid game, but I’m not sure I remember a single rebound opportunity by the Rangers in Game 2.

For all the Rangers talk about not getting enough bodies to the net in Game 1, you would have thought they would have, you know, gotten bodies to the net yesterday.

Meanwhile, the Flyers didn’t have many chances Sunday afternoon, but what ones they did they made count by causing havoc in front and taking advantage of second chances in front of Henrik Lundqvist…

Which was something completely absent from their offense in Game 1.

I do feel the Rangers will be in good shape in this series if they continue to control puck possession, however, to put the Flyers away quickly, they’re going to have to start making life a hell of a lot harder for Emery, who is likely to start Game 3, by forcing him to actually battle to make saves through screens, tips and rebound opportunities which were completely MIA from the Rangers performance in Game 2.

Four of the Rangers six goals against Emery are when they forced him to move laterally, while the other two were on rebounds. A team always has a better chance of scoring when the opposing goaltender isn’t set or square to the shooter.

At the other end, the Rangers defense are going to need to stiffen up to prevent the reinvigorated Flyer forwards from gaining position in front of Lundqvist for easy tap-ins.

The biggest reason for the flip in quality chances from the first game to the second was battle level. In Game 1 the Rangers had it. In the large majority of Game 2? Not so much. Once the Rangers are reminded that nothing comes easy in the playoffs, I think we’ll see them revert back to the effort that’s made them so successful in the second half of the season.

Here’s to hoping Vigneault and his players review the game tape and not just the stat sheet before Tuesday night.


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