Is Kevin Hayes The Rangers Key to A Cup In 2015?
If the Rangers had Kevin Hayes last year, would they be the Stanley Cup champs looking to win a second in 2015? Last season the New York Rangers had enviable depth and a ton of speed up and down the lineup. If the opponent failed to get the puck deep, any one of the Rangers four lines could turn it the other direction. Much like this season it leads to goals for the Rangers and the opposition was left wondering what just happened.
Teams like the Bruins that tried to intimidate the Rangers were just not able to keep up because you can’t hit what you can’t catch. However, the one weakness on that 13/14 Rangers squad was exploited in the Stanley Cup Final by the Los Angeles Kings. That weakness was size in the middle of the Rangers lineup and the Kings took full advantage by scoring some late goals to force overtime. Some were controversial while others were simply from the Rangers centerman not being able to cover the Kings.
This 14/15 season has come to a close and the New York Rangers are the President’s Trophy winners with 53 wins and a league leading 113 points. They beat the Washington Capitals 4-2 on Saturday in the season finale’ and for the third time in four tries against the division rivals. A lot of what the Rangers achieved this season is due to the unflappable Kevin Hayes. His play this season gives the Rangers depth and a big centerman that can matchup against more of the teams the Rangers may run into in the playoffs.
The Rangers have a secret weapon in Kevin Hayes who has been a beast in the Rangers lineup this season. Early on there were some growing pains but overall Hayes has had an incredible campaign so far. His scoring stat line of 17-28 and 45 points has been impressive. His size though (6’5″ 225lbs) is why the New York Rangers persued him so heavily. Kudos to the Rangers scouting staff for setting their sights on this kid.
As the third line center, Hayes gets to start 60% of his shifts in the offensive end which makes the learning curve much lighter. However, at even strength the Rangers get 51% of the shot attempts while he was on ice and only 49.20% while he is on the bench. So he is driving possesion well with those offensive end minutes the hope is that he drives possession better in the playoffs.
In all situations (Including PP and PK) the Rangers are getting 55.04% of the scoring chances with Hayes on the ice and 50.23% when he’s on the bench(4.81% Relative). That’s usually a good sign that a player is either going to continue scoring or begin doing so very soon with 55% of the on ice scoring chances.
With the big centerman in the lineup, the Rangers can now go toe to toe with any team in the NHL East or West. Hayes allows the Rangers to match Derek Stepan and Derick Brassard with more favourable competition. Hayes plays a magnificant defensive game and early on in the season when he seemed to hit a wall, he was still playing well in his own end. Since the All-Star break, Hayes has taken flight with 29 points (11G-18A) in that time which leads the entire Rangers team.
Aside from Kevin Hayes’ faceoff woes he has been the Rangers go to forward for scoring in the second half. His 36% success rate on draws isn’t cutting it but that may be Hayes’ only shortcoming.
The next test lies ahead with the playoffs begining Thursday and the Rangers will need Kevin Hayes to be the player he has been all season long. He has progressed beyond anyone’s imagination but most of that goes out the window in the playoffs.
The Rangers have a lot of playoff experience throughout the lineup but they cannot afford to have Hayes regress in the postseason. If Hayes proves he can be a playoff performer like Derick Brassard, Chris Kreider, Carl Hagelin, and Ryan Mcdonagh. This could be a very fun month of June on Broadway for the fans and players alike.
Lets’ bring it home boys!