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Hockey Prospectus Predicts Rangers Can't Sustain Winning in 2nd Half of Season

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01-26-2012, 02:17 PM
  #1
GordonGecko
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Hockey Prospectus Predicts Rangers Can't Sustain Winning in 2nd Half of Season

http://www.hockeyprospectus.com/arti...articleid=1234

New York Rangers
First half: 58 points
Projected second half: 46 points
Slump: 12 points

In our book, Hockey Prospectus 2011-12, we predicted the Rangers to finish fourth in the NHL, so No. 1 wouldn't be that far off. However, a lot of their success in the first half was driven by higher-than-expected percentages that will soon come down to Earth. Offensively, they were 26th in the league in shots per game but third in shooting percentage, improving from their customary 9.1 percent last season to 10.6 percent. Several Rangers are sniping at or near career-high rates, including Brad Richards, who is on pace for his first 30-goal season, and fellow veteran Marian Gaborik, who already has matched last season's goal total.

Although the Rangers are trending up from their awful start possession-wise, throughout the first half of the season, they controlled the play just 48.6 percent of the time in close games. The fact that they have the third-fewest giveaways and stand sixth in blocked shots may be a representation of their skill but also that they don't often have the puck in the first place, further highlighting their reliance on red-hot shooting percentages.

Defensively, the Rangers are being boosted by Henrik Lundqvist's absurd .937 save percentage -- 14 points higher than his already impressive career high. He's also stopped almost 91 percent of shots while down a man. Unless he's this season's Tim Thomas, the Rangers will have a tougher second half when he and backup Martin Biron, who is also setting a career high, begin to regress from .935 to last season's more typical .922.

Overall, the Rangers will be down 15 goals for and 15 goals against when the percentages regress, and that would lead to a 10-point drop in the standings. So what accounts for the other two points? Given that their puck luck could change, their 9-2-4 record in one-goal games figures to dip a little -- in this case, costing them at least one win.

While they've been a much-improved team the past 15 games or so, the Rangers aren't likely to hit the 100-point milestone until the season's final week.

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01-26-2012, 02:21 PM
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charlie460
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Any kind of "prediction" like this is meaningless.

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01-26-2012, 02:22 PM
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Thats a pretty large regression they are assuming there. They assume that every single excellent statistic is an anomaly and will regress to the mean, while also assuming that our "average" stats will remain average. That doesn't even take into account our below-average powerplay. There is no basis for their predictions, it kind of reminds me of how a fan of a team chasing us would act to justify why their team would win the division.

Let the haters hate, **** em.

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01-26-2012, 02:24 PM
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alot of assumptions made by some rinky dink hockey site thats probably run out of some dudes basement in his free time away from the 9-5. i guess all of our success is based off of luck, lets not take into account a maturing defense, and entire team that has bought into a gritty hard working system and players playing to their potential like cali,gabby, mcdonagh and girardi.

success cant just be success when it comes to the rangers tho, because its New York and all, everythings gotta be based off of luck and based off of improbable career highs, smh. haters gona hate

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01-26-2012, 02:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Calad View Post
Thats a pretty large regression they are assuming there. They assume that every single excellent statistic is an anomaly and will regress to the mean, while also assuming that our "average" stats will remain average. That doesn't even take into account our below-average powerplay. There is no basis for their predictions, it kind of reminds me of how a fan of a team chasing us would act to justify why their team would win the division.

Let the haters hate, **** em.
There is a basis for the prediction. 26th in shots, yet 3rd in shooting %, chasing the puck more than we have it, 2 goaltenders that are playing absurdly well.

Stats guys are going to assume this stuff regresses back to the mean. Its the job of the team to make sure it doesnt.

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01-26-2012, 02:33 PM
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We have 8 points in 6 games since the midway point.

Shout to all the haters. Thank you!

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01-26-2012, 02:34 PM
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GordonGecko
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bleed Ranger Blue View Post
Stats guys are going to assume this stuff regresses back to the mean. Its the job of the team to make sure it doesnt.
Exactly, there's a certain amount of intangibles that stats can't take account of. Specifically, how hard and well the team plays together and their determination to win. The prediction also doesn't account for the Rangers being able to improve on their weaker points which could happen. A trade is also possible

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01-26-2012, 02:37 PM
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Calad
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bleed Ranger Blue View Post
There is a basis for the prediction. 26th in shots, yet 3rd in shooting %, chasing the puck more than we have it, 2 goaltenders that are playing absurdly well.

Stats guys are going to assume this stuff regresses back to the mean. Its the job of the team to make sure it doesnt.
We don't play a puck possesion style, we aren't going to be anywhere near the league lead in shots and we aren't going to have the puck for the majority of the time. This is part of the reason why we have some ridiculous record when we are outshooting the opponent (16-4 after the Winnipeg game, thats .800. Next highest is .700), because when we are controlling the puck as much as we do during games like that we are truly dominating those games.

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01-26-2012, 02:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Calad View Post
We don't play a puck possesion style.
Thats funny, because John Tortorella would be the first to tell you that they want to have the puck more than the other team.

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01-26-2012, 02:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Bleed Ranger Blue View Post
Thats funny, because John Tortorella would be the first to tell you that they want to have the puck more than the other team.
Are you being facetious? What team is going to want to possess the puck less than the other team?

How often do you see us executing the dump & chase vs entering the zone? Our entire defensive style hinges upon getting the puck deep and making the opponent go the entire length of the ice against some relentless forechecking.

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01-26-2012, 02:45 PM
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They posted a link to this on ESPNNewYork about a week ago claiming it was insider only here. I wrote a fairly long post about it in the comment section about the points I thought they would make. The actual article was less extensive than I thought it would be. It's pretty much worthless. Quotes below is what I thought the first time...

Quote:
I'm generally a very scientific person, but I just don't believe in applying statistics like this. And admittedly I don't have insider, so I can only address the points that I think he's making.

First off, shooting percentage. Brad Richards seems to be the biggest violator here. I'm going to ignore Mike Rupp, because it's such a small sample size and he's clearly not being relied upon to score goals. I'm going to ignore Sean Avery, because he's not on the team. Mitchell isn't being asked to make huge contributions. Eminger barely takes any shots, which is why he's high. Hagelin is a rookie so no comparables, but if his shot percentage is dropping it will be by a little bit. Cally is at average. Fedotenko is below career average. Stepan has dropped from last year. Christensen has only taken 10 shots. Everyone else is below 10%, so I'm really not seeing who besides Richards is really overachieving.

Now let's look at Richards' play this season. His shooting percentage may be up. Same with his goal scoring. However, his assist totals have been way down; if we expect those to return to career average it will be a nice upswing in offense. Brandon Dubinsky has been slumping almost all season. His shooting percentage is about half of what it normally is. If it returns to career average, that's another boost in offense. His play has been picking up lately, so that's entirely plausible. That would be a top six player returning to form, not a bottom line grinder who doesn't take very many shots.

I'm not sure that people who watch the Rangers would agree with the puck possession issue. It certainly hasn't seemed that way, but the stats evidently say otherwise. Whatever; I'm not going to argue here.

What I will argue, however, is the sustainability of the goalie stats. There's a very simple reason why they're doing so well- the defense has been phenomenal. Lundqvist has made the saves that he has to, but watching him, I would not identify this as his best season... he simply has the most help. Girardi and McDonagh have been absolutely shut down. Del Zotto has been tremendous this year. Tortorella has a system going where no matter who gets plugged in, they play competently- but the three aforementioned defensemen have stepped up and taken their games to a whole new level.

I disagree wholeheartedly about the need to make a trade on defense. They already have an absurdly deep group. Stralman and Eminger have played well in the 4 role this year, Woywitika, and Bickel have done well as bottom pair guys. Erixon is a PPG defenseman in the AHL, and I've heard good things about players like Parlett as well. Sauer has been symptom free for 7-10 days now. Marc Staal has been back for 8 games already. Speculation about him experiencing PCS and a relapse are absolutely baseless. Comparisons to Crosby are pointless as every concussion is different, and I think assuming he's going to get hurt again is pretty silly. Might as well assume Gaborik is going to get injured. The Rangers currently have three healthy defensemen capable of playing 30 minutes a game, and when Staal is fully conditioned, they'll have four. If needed, Staal, Girardi, McDonagh, and Del Zotto can play the entire game without a third pair (obviously this would never happen; it's just the point).

The one position I can see making an upgrade at would be grabbing another top 6 left wing. Boyes is on the wrong side; he's not displacing Callahan or Gaborik and I'm pretty content with the bottom of the roster.

The Rangers are beating teams with strong defense, good goaltending, and an excellent system that allows the next man up to make contributions. The stats might not like it, but the Rangers aren't going anywhere.

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01-26-2012, 02:55 PM
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Greg02, you make a good point. They expect all the statistical aberrations that have been a positive for the team to regress while not expecting the negative aberrations to progress. So I'm not worried about it.

Also, I wouldn't be surprised to see our pace cool off slightly. But they seem to be confusing "12 less points" with a "12 point drop in the standings." 104 points is in competition for the division, which is exactly what should be happening by the end of the year.

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01-26-2012, 02:58 PM
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I do agree that they're going to hit a big slump eventally, hopefully it's not in the Playoffs though.

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01-26-2012, 03:05 PM
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i kinda agree with the sentiment here. i think the Rangers fall down to earth a lil bit. 4th in the NHL? I'd take that any day of the week.

1)Detroit
2)Bawstun
3)Vancouver
4)NYR


done.

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01-26-2012, 03:19 PM
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We've been hearing this since October and yet it doesn't go away even though the wins and points continue to pile up.
They have also done it without the skills competition points, they have only gone to the SO 5 times this season (tied with 8 other teams for 5 SO games), only the Canes, Philly and the Jets (4 times) and the Caps (3 SO's) have less SO games.
I'm not a fan of trying to apply baseball type stats to hockey the games are totally different.

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01-26-2012, 03:28 PM
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And I bet they didn't "predict" them to have 58pts for the first half either. They can KMA. Presidents trophy is coming to Broadway.

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01-26-2012, 03:34 PM
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this will be a fun little thread to bump in a few months when we're trying to guess who will grab the 8th spot in the east and have to face off against the NYR in the first round!

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01-26-2012, 03:45 PM
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Ok.

Whatever.

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01-26-2012, 03:49 PM
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I admit I am a little concerned about our sustainability with our limited offense. If the trio of Callahan/Richards/Gaborik isn't hot, we're not getting much more than 1 in a game.

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01-26-2012, 04:11 PM
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I think we play a playoff style almost every night & our consistency will not be as big of an advantage as the playoff push comes & teams are more focused more often.

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01-26-2012, 04:14 PM
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This team is built around players with intangibles so it doesn't surprise me that the statistics don't tell the whole story.

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01-26-2012, 04:16 PM
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Gregg02,

Thank you for saving me time making the same points abouts (not) accounting for players underperforming offensively and discounting current goalies' stats.

As far as the rest of the season predictions - I think everyone is also in agreement that there is probably going to be some decline in points/game but not due to some historical averages but rather the increase in the quality of our opponents in the second half.

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01-26-2012, 04:20 PM
  #23
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who'd complain about 4th in the NHL? 4th in the Eastern conference - i don't think so.

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01-26-2012, 04:32 PM
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"Unless he's this seasons Tim Thomas"

You mean we have to shelter his minutes and play a guy who's younger and just as good a ton of the time? ****ing ridiculous, enough of slobbing on Thomas' knob. He's hardly the standard for goaltending excellence. Guess the "SABR geniuses" forgot to account for the fact this is the best defense our goaltender has ever played behind.

Lost interest there. Hockey SABR is a joke. Like i've always said, they are horrendous at accounting for strong defense and great goaltending...which is what our team is built around.

I agree completely with Greg, here. Sure, will we regress? It's possible. But i'm sick of hockey SABR stats and their complete ignorance of other variables. Please, stick to baseball, where they're actually incredibly legitimate.

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01-26-2012, 04:39 PM
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BlueshirtBlitz View Post
"Unless he's this seasons Tim Thomas"

You mean we have to shelter his minutes and play a guy who's younger and just as good a ton of the time? ****ing ridiculous, enough of slobbing on Thomas' knob. He's hardly the standard for goaltending excellence. Guess the "SABR geniuses" forgot to account for the fact this is the best defense our goaltender has ever played behind.

Lost interest there. Hockey SABR is a joke. Like i've always said, they are horrendous at accounting for strong defense and great goaltending...which is what our team is built around.

I agree completely with Greg, here. Sure, will we regress? It's possible. But i'm sick of hockey SABR stats and their complete ignorance of other variables. Please, stick to baseball, where they're actually incredibly legitimate.
Normally I'd agree with you -- if Thomas didnt have an insanely good playoffs last year. He deserves the credit.

Lundqvist needs that run too. And I fully expect he'll do it before his career is out.

I also agree that Sabremetrics hold less of a place in hockey, a game built upon desire and passion.

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