DEFINING THE “CARCILLO EFFECT”

Carcillo celebrates goal versus the Flyers.

Carcillo celebrates goal versus the Flyers.

Now hear this! The New York Rangers are 3-0 with Daniel Carcillo in the lineup. Hear this as well, he isn’t the only reason why they are winning either. Let’s get something straight, when Carcillo was acquired for a 7th round pick after a terrible loss in Pittsburgh, I was all for it. In that game the Rangers were outworked for every inch of ice and lost Derek Dorsett to a broken leg. The move was a no-brainer and had no long term risk. It may just prove to be one of the key acquisitions in turning the Rangers fortunes around for good though.

For the advanced stat lovers, NY has had a positive corsi rating for most of the year. The Rangers were possessing the puck at over a 50% clip, yet were only a game over .500 for the season. While I agree possession is indicative of the likelihood of a team’s success, it doesn’t always tell the full story. AV’s new system, Nash’s concussions, Lundqvist’s confidence, Callahan’s frailty and the team’s lack of “toughness” can’t be captured by any advanced stat. Corsi guys will argue that the Rangers were just a victim of a low shooting percentage and bad luck. Based on those stats I would agree, but I also contend that they lacked “swagger”. Yes, another unquantifiable variable that is every bit as important as puck possession.

So what is toughness and swagger and how do you quantify it? Let’s first clarify that toughness doesn’t mean fighting. Yes, you need to be able to answer the proverbial bell when called upon but it means so much more. It means throwing the body, winning puck battles and standing in front. Toughness doesn’t stop there because it also means standing up for teammates and knocking an opponent to the ground. If you can do that, you can start getting some confidence in your game or swagger if you will. Neither quality can be pinpointed for measurement but you sure know it when you see it.

Carcillo brings all that plus the added bonus of agitating. Before Dorsett went down he had 71 hits in 37 games for an average of 1.91 hits per. Yet he had 9 fighting majors and it wasn’t helping NY win. In just 3 games Carcillo has 12 hits for an average of 4 a game. Obviously, Carcillo’s physical play is having a bigger impact than Dorsett’s fists ever did. Do you realize how much players hate to be hit? Obviously Carcillo does. Against Philadelphia, on his first shift he not only threw the body but he scored the opening goal. That sent the Flyers wild and basically took Wayne Simmonds and Scott Hartnell off their game. While the Flyers chased Carcillo, the Rangers chased the puck and won a laugher.

Alain Vigneault desperately needed a player like Carcillo. Not because he can fight, but because he can get under the opposition’s skin and get them focused on him instead of say, Rick Nash. A point highlighted against the Flyers when AV deployed Carcillo with Stepan and Nash as the game started to get ugly. A luxury the head coach did not have before with Dorsett or JT Miller in the lineup. Why? Because it isn’t JT’s game to play 9 minutes and be a physical force and agitator. Nor was Dorsett capable of doing it. AV has been trying to pound square pegs into round holes all year. It looks like now he’s found the right pieces.

The Rangers are winning now because Rick Nash is scoring and Henrik Lundqvist is stopping pucks. It really is that simple. Matter of fact, the Rangers have been outshot in 2 out of those 3 wins with Carcillo in the lineup, defying corsi as they say. Bottom line is this, the Blueshirts are playing much better because the players finally understand and can execute the system. They also have the right pieces in the right places and one of those pieces is Daniel Carcillo. His toughness, grit and agitating style fill a void NY sorely needed. That is in essence “THE CARCILLO EFFECT”.

Anthony Scultore has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL since 2014. His work also appears at... More about Anthony Scultore