Is this just a hot streak or are the Rangers the real deal

Howden (Getty Images)

After their win against the Islanders on Wednesday, the Rangers maintain their recent record of 8-1-1 in their past 10 games. Now that they’ve won 9 of their last 11 games with only one loss in that span (against the Islanders in Brooklyn, of course), they seem to have bought into what David Quinn has been selling.

Are these Rangers the real deal?

Now streaks happen in hockey, whether they are winning or losing streaks. The question that needs to be addressed will be: is this just a winning streak or is this the real deal? With surprises from Brett Howden and Neal Pionk and the unusual consistency of Chris Krieder, Kevin Hayes and Jimmy Vesey, can this Rangers team be better than all of us first thought? I’m not ashamed to admit I was wrong…I’m a little ashamed, but hey we aren’t always right. But back to the matter at hand, is this recent resurgence real, or just fool’s gold?

The teams they’ve beaten

Let us look back at these last few games to see if the teams they beat were actual real contenders or not. The teams the Rangers faced and beat in the last 10 games are as follows: Anaheim (3-2 (SO)), Buffalo (3-1), Montreal (5-3), Columbus (5-4 (SO)), Vancouver (2-1), Florida (4-2), Dallas (2-1), NY Islanders (5-0).

Respectively, the points for the opposing teams as of Thanksgiving are: 23, 30 26, 26, 22, 19, 24, 22. I know those numbers mean nothing without a good reference so out of those 8 teams, 5 are currently in the playoff pictures. Two are 2-4 points outside of the wild card and 1 is just bottom of the barrel terrible (it’s the Panthers). So most of these teams seem to be contenders or reasonably good so for the sake of the argument.

How the Rangers have won these games

Most teams are only 20-22 games through this current season, so we can’t determine how significant this current winning streak is solely on record/points, although we can speculate good the streak is based off HOW they won the games.

Quinn leading his charges (Getty Images)

Four of these eight games they have won have been decided by 1 point, two of those four have been decided by a shootout. Three of the remaining four have been decided by two goals, and one was a blowout 5-0 win.

As of today, the Rangers are 22nd in the league in ROW (Regular plus overtime wins) with eight wins total while they have four wins in the shootout. With already 7 of their 22 games requiring overtime (2-1 in overtime, 4-0 in the shootout) the Rangers seem to be winning a significant amount of close games. Their goal differential speaks to that as they only have a +3 in that category for the season, and during this streak they had a +10 differential.

Now having any positive goal differential is a good thing but if you go back to right before Wednesday’s game, the Rangers would boast a -2 goal differential while sitting in 2nd place in the Metro. Now a win is a win, but for the Rangers, they seem to be barely winning these games.

Again, right before Wednesday’s game against the Islanders, the Rangers only scored more than three goals once, and that was a shootout win against the San Jose Sharks.

All Hail The Almighty Stats

Statistics cannot lie because you cannot argue with numbers. Recently, stats have been a way to really skew different view points but I’m just going to focus on the solid, recognizable stats that don’t have five letter abbreviations (sorry all CORSI lovers out there).

Lundqvist(MSG)

The Rangers stats do not reflect their current record of 12-8-2. To start, their goals for per game verses their goals against (2.91 vs 2.95) reflects that they don’t really play well when they lose, they aren’t outscoring their opponent and their “work-hard” attitude isn’t a solid replacement for pure skill.

Their Goals For is good for 20th in the league while their goals against is the 15th lowest in the league. Their special teams’ percentages are interesting with a powerplay percentage of 20.8 (14th in the league) but a penalty kill of only 77 percent (22nd in the league). They manage 29 shots on goal per game (7th lowest) but give up 33 per game (5th highest). These stats are being weighed down by their anemic start to the season.

In the past ten games they’ve played, the Rangers scored the 11th most goals (34) and 7th fewest goals against (24). Their powerplay also jumped up to 33 percent with 8 PPGs in this span (tied for 8th in the league) while their penalty kill inched up to 80 percent while allowing 7 goals. Now these differences between this streak and the whole season is also a little misleading if we go back prior to the November 1st game against the Ducks.

When you do, we see that the Rangers in that 12 game span to start the season were 4-7-1, with 41 goals against (7th most) 30 goals for (4th least), 12th lowest power play percentage (17.9%), 23rd in penalty killing (74.4%), So from the first 12 games to the last 10 played we see a huge difference in all of these categories. To sum all these lovely stats up from these two different spans we have this table:

  First 12 games Last 10 games Difference
Goals For 30 34 +4
Goals Against 41 24 -13
Power Play % 17.9% 33% +13.3%
Penalty Kill % 74.4% 80% +5.6%

A small table, but it really shows the progress the Rangers have made from the beginning of the season. While not scoring at a higher level, their defense has found its identity and are starting to become a factor in deciding these games.

Bringing it all home

Now to answer this question I posted in the beginning of this article: Are these Rangers the real deal?

Well, kind of.

They are playing smart hockey, not giving up as many chances and they are playing every shift as hard as they can. David Quinn isn’t scared to sit someone, and this is a good motivating factor that can explain this recent surge. If they keep up the way they’ve been playing, I can say they’re the real deal for now, but to solidify this statement I want to see solid wins against some powerhouse teams such as Tampa Bay or Toronto.

Wins decided by 1 or 2 goals might not be as abundant the rest of the season, close games can go either way at any point, so to sustain this they’ll need their forwards to start producing more. Even if they don’t continue their winning ways, a bright future is ahead of us with Brett Howden, Filip Chytil, Lias Andersson, Neal Pionk and Brady Skjei leading the charge.