New York Rangers dominate on the road in October
The first month of the NHL regular season has come and gone in the blink of an eye. Through nine games there are already multiple storylines developing in the New York Rangers‘ lineup as well as around the league. After a very concerning preseason, the Rangers came out and surprised us all, posting a record of 7-2-0 in the month of October. On top of that, they became the first team in Rangers’ history to go 5-0-0 on a road trip of that length.
Compared to last October, the Rangers are off to a much better start. New York held a record of 5-3-2 and had lost games to teams with no chance of making the playoffs. This time around, they posted their best month of October since the 2015-2016 season, when they went 7-2-2.
Through the first month of play the Blueshirts sit first in the Metropolitan Division, leading by two points over the Carolina Hurricanes while playing one less game. They are 3rd in the NHL behind the Boston Bruins (8-0-1) and Vegas Golden Knights (9-0-1), both of whom have yet to lose in regulation. The Rangers carry a goal differential of +10, which is best in their division by seven goals.
Let’s take a closer look at some statistics through the first month of play.
New York Rangers October Review
According to NHL Edge, the Rangers have spent 42.1% of their time in the offensive zone. This is above league average and puts them in the 68th percentile. The Rangers have been doing a much better job of keeping the puck in the opponents’ end of the ice. This is largely due to the aggressiveness of the defense that Peter Laviolette has instilled through his systems. Having them step up and pinch down to prevent teams from breaking out, combined with the 1-3-1 neutral zone trap, has the Rangers spending more time finding offense.
Another attribute to the Rangers’ success is the zone time on their power play, which holds the 2nd best percentage in the league at 34.4%. While it is expected that teams are in the offensive zone on the power play, the Rangers have spent 66.1% of their man advantage time there. This ranks in the 99th percentile in the league. This means that they are doing an excellent job of recovering pucks and blocking clearing attempts in order to stay in the offensive zone, maximizing their time on the power play.
Another area where the Rangers have been performing above average has been in their shot selection and shooting percentage. Through the first month of the season, they have a shooting percentage of 11% (68th percentile). Their 28 goals on 254 shots means roughly a goal every ten shots. However, 254 shots on goal rank below the 50th percentile according to NHL Edge. An increased rate of shots at the same shooting percentage could cause a heavy increase in scoring for the Blueshirts.
The Rangers have had excellent numbers from high-danger areas of the ice (thank you Chris Kreider tip-in goals). Their scoring percentage jumps to 24.6% (84th percentile) in high-danger areas, scoring 15 goals on 61 shots. While this is in fact largely due to the tip in goals the Rangers have scored, it also shows that they are working to get themselves into those high-danger scoring areas and it is certainly paying off.
Bright spots in Rangers’ lineup through October
Through nine games there have certainly been players who have shined through in the Rangers lineup.
Artemi Panarin: Without a doubt, Panarin has been the best player thus far. He has a point in all nine games to start the year, tallying 5 goals and 10 assists. Good for 2nd in the league. He is shooting the puck more than we have ever seen, with 33 shots on goal (96th percentile) and a shooting percentage of 15.2% (78th percentile). He has spent 51% of his time on the ice in the offensive zone, putting him in the 99th percentile league wide. Maybe it is playing for Laviolette, maybe it’s the shaved head. Whatever it is, the Rangers need it to continue.
Adam Fox: Once again, Fox continues to be the Rangers’ best defenseman. He is off to a great start in terms of point production. He leads all NHL defensemen with 11 points through nine games. He carries a 21.4% shooting percentage (90th percentile) and has three goals on 14 shots. He has backstopped the team defensively and has played well on both the power play and penalty kill units.
Igor Shesterkin and Jonathan Quick: Both goalies have been incredible for the Rangers in the month of October. From Shesterkin’s overtime heroics against Vancouver, to Quick’s 1st shutout as a Ranger in Edmonton, New York goaltending continues to be stellar. Through the first month, Shesterkin has a record of 5-2 a .905 save percentage, and a GAA of 2.56. Quick holds a 2-0 record with a .982 save percentage, 0.41 GAA, and one shutout.
Shesterkin has had 5 games with a save percentage greater than .900, which ranks in the 97th percentile. Albeit a smaller sample size, Quick ranks in the top 95 percent of multiple goaltending categories, including save percentage, high-danger save percentage, and goal differential per 60 minutes. It is safe to say that the Rangers are in good hands in the cage.
Overall, the New York Rangers have had an incredible month of October. They are finding ways to win even in games where the play says otherwise, which defines great teams. In an article written last season for USA Today, 76.3 percent of NHL teams in playoff spots on Thanksgiving Day make the postseason, dating all the way back to the 2005-06 season. They will look to continue their winning ways as we head into November, with that important benchmark just around the corner.