Game after game during the regular season, we lamented the Rangers inability to bury their shots. It was especially agonizing when they turned an inexperienced or journeyman goaltender into the next coming of Patrick Roy.
So how bad was it? The Rangers were second in the NHL during the regular season with 2,719 shots on goal (33 per game), however, they were just 16th in goals scored with 214 (2.61 per game), which gave them the league’s 26th
best worst shooting percentage of 7.9%.
Can you give the opposing goaltenders credit? Absolutely, but my guess is that poor shooting was created by the lack of quality chances. No traffic in front combined with tons of perimeter shooting usually leads to netminders being able to pad their stats against the Rangers.
Meanwhile, through the first five games of their Eastern Conference quarterfinals series against the Flyers it’s been a completely different story as the Rangers shots per game have dropped to 30 per game, while their goals per game has increased to 3.00. This has obviously led to their shooting percentage jumping up a full two points to 9.9% (15 goals on 152 shots).
What’s even more amazing is that if you break down the Rangers postseason numbers from game to game, it becomes even more evident that the less shots they’re taking the more goals they’re generating…
Somehow, the Rangers have scored just seven goals combined in the three games in which they’ve had at least 33 shots on goal losing two of them. However, in the two games they’ve barely cracked 20 shots they’ve totaled eight goals while winning both.
The stat that jumps off the page at me is shooting percentage. In the Rangers three victories they have a shooting percentage of 15.6% (up 7.7% from the regular season), while it plummets to just 4.35% in the two loses despite 33+ shots in both games.
Even more puzzling is that in the two games the Rangers have lost in the series they’ve had a Corsi % (percentage of shot attempts for) and Fenwick % (percentage of unblocked shot attempts for) above 56%. Conversely, they’ve won both games when their Corsi % and Fenwick % dipped below 45%. So unlike all season when puck possession was a key to their success (5th in the NHL in Corsi % (52.9%) and Fenwick % (52.8%)) it hasn’t been a major factor so far in the postseason.
I really have no explanation as I don’t feel the Rangers are creating higher percentage scoring opportunities than in the regular season. There’s still plenty of perimeter play and not enough bodies in front. I have to assume Marty St. Louis remembering he’s Marty St. Louis along with Brad Richards regaining his Conn Smythe form can be attributed with the improved shooting percentage, but they can’t be the entire reason.
Puck luck is a huge part of the success of a NHL team. While the Rangers had none of it during the regular season, their fortunes in the postseason seem to be turning as they’re finding the back of the net with less effort and more regularity.
All stats courtesy of Extra Skater.