Shot metrics suggest the Rangers can beat the Islanders tonight
Many Ranger fans won’t admit it, but after three convincing wins by the Islanders this season, they’re worried. Honestly, they have a right to be but there’s enough evidence to believe the Rangers can win tonight.
Two Hot Teams
The Rangers are one of the hottest teams in the league. In their last 20 games they have gone 14-5-1, scoring a staggering 64 goals in those contests for a 3.2 goals per game average. The Islanders have also done well with a 13-7 record in their past 20 games, notching 66 goals in process. Both teams are humming offensively so scoring chances will be there.
Shot Quality Is The Key
Steve Valiquette of MSG’s Hockey Night Live, told FullTilt Rangers that the number of Green Shots (High Quality Scoring Shots) by the Rangers in the three contests this season against the Islanders is over 13 per game.
“That is a huge number,” Valiquette said. According to his analysis a goal is scored once every 4-5 Green Shots. The fact that the Rangers haven’t scored enough on these is “mind-boggling” but over time he believes the Rangers will start to cash in.
“I would say that even over this three game set has looked dominant from an Islanders perspective, I believe over a 7 game series the Rangers would win it.” Valiquette continued to point out that Henrik Lundqvist has also been a bit unlucky against the Islanders.
Valiquette cited Lundqvist allowing 11 Green Goals off of 28 Green Shots, but 5 came off broken plays which are harder to stop. The data shows a goal is scored every 2.3 times on a broken play at the net. It’s no wonder the Islanders have come out on top each and every time.
Halak Playing Way Above Normal
The difference in the three games has been Jaroslav Halak. The league average save percentage on Green Shots is .850. Halak against the Rangers is at a staggering .923 save percentage on those high quality chances. Considering the Rangers averaging 13 of those chances a game, any regression towards .850 means goals for the Blueshirts.
Valiquette noted on an MSG exclusive that the Rangers have had 13 one timers in high scoring positions and only scored once. If the Islanders continue to allow these scoring chances to the Rangers, it may only be a matter of time before the floodgates open.
The Rangers Know What This Game Means
This is not to say they had no clue before but this the proverbial 4 point game in the standings. A win here would put the Rangers 2 points behind the Islanders for 1st place and still hold 2 games in hand.
[su_quote cite=”Jim Cerny” url=”http://www.blueshirtsunited.com/article/morning-skate-long-island-boyle-game-time-decision”]”Those games are behind us,” stated Vigneault of the three losses to the Islanders, two at The Garden and one at Nassau Coliseum. “What matters is us getting on the ice and executing, and managing the puck better. They put a lot of pressure on us without a doubt, and create a lot of turnovers. That must change.” [/su_quote]
For the Rangers the start will be the key. Getting in front of the Islanders would go a long way in dictating the pace and flow of the game. The Islanders have the home ice advantage of last change and will be looking to exploit mismatches of John Tavares against the Rangers bottom two lines.
If the Blueshirts can get in front early, some of that onus will go away as the Islanders will be forced to play Tavares against any line in order to generate offense. So tonight’s start is key and could be the difference between a win and loss.
Bottom line is this, although the Islanders have won all three games so far this season, there’s enough reason to believe the Rangers can come out on top tonight.
You can listen to my entire interview with Steve Valiquette here.