The Rangers’ record in one-goal games is not as good as last season. 23 of their first 41 games have been decided by one goal (including games when an empty net goal was scored) and their record is 10-6-7. That’s a points percentage of .587.
In 2021-22, the Rangers’ record was a stellar 28-11-6 in 45 one-goal games giving them a points percentage of .689.
The ability to win one-goal games is important when the playoffs come around. Last postseason, 13 of 20 playoff games were decided by one goal (including empty net goal games) and the Blueshirts were 5-8.
The power play
The Rangers’ power play is their most important offensive weapon, but as we saw against the Devils, when it fails it is an issue. This season the team has a 23.7% success rate, good for 13th place in the NHL. Last season they were fourth overall with a 25.2% success rate.
That’s not the whole story. When the power play clicks, it results in wins. In the 22 games when they scored on the power play (54%), their record is 16-4-2.
The problem is when they don’t score. This season, the Rangers have failed to score a power-play goal in 19 of 41 or in 46% of their games. Their record in those games is 6-8-5.
Last season, they failed to score on the power play in 38 of 82 games, the same 46%. However, when the power play failed, they were able to make it up with even-strength goals and they went 20-16-2.
When they did score on the power play, they went 32-8-4, the same record as this year’s squad.
What does it mean? This year’s team is more reliant on the power play when it comes to winning. When they score with the man advantage, they stand a good chance of winning. When they don’t, it’s a crapshoot.
Saturday’s game against the Devils was a perfect example. If the Blueshirts had been able to score on the power play, it could have put the game out of reach. In their big win last week against the Hurricanes, it was the power play that kept them in the game before they were able to score twice in the third period at even strength.
We’ve all heard Sam Rosen extolling the Rangers’ third-period scoring. With 53 third-period goals, they are third-best in the NHL. That’s an improvement on last season when the Rangers were 12th overall in third-period goals.
There is cause for concern. Last season the Blueshirts’ third-period defense was the best in the NHL, allowing only 63 third-period goals in 81 games. This season they have allowed 39 third-period goals, the ninth fewest in the NHL. That still sounds good, but the numbers are misleading.
Last year, the Rangers were a third-period shutdown team. When tied or ahead going into the third period they were an outstanding 48-5-4. That’s only nine regulation or overtime losses in 57 games.
- Tied going into the third period: 17-4-1
- Ahead going into the third period: 31-1-3
- Behind going into the third period: 4-19-2
It’s a different story this season. When tied or ahead going into the third period, they are 19-3-7. That sounds like a good record, but it’s also 10 losses in 29 games. True, they are still getting the loser point, but they are also giving up crucial points.
- Tied going into the third period: 9-1-5
- Ahead going into the third period: 10-2-2
- Behind going into the third period: 3-9-0
To be fair, the Rangers have shown some resilience lately with three come-from-behind third-period wins in the last 15 games.
The biggest concern is blowing leads in the third period, something that they have done four times this season. One of the hallmarks of the Rangers has been their ability to hold leads. Since 2010-11, they have gone into the third period with the lead 347 times and have lost only 13 times in regulation and 23 times in overtime or shootout. Their two blown leads in regulation this year are tied for the most they have given up since 2016-17 when they blew four leads.
The third period issue also is reflected in the team’s ability to come from behind. Last season, the Rangers fell behind 50 times. They came back to win 27 times while losing 19 games in regulation and four times on extra time.
This season is a different story. They have fallen behind 22 times in 41 games and have come back to win nine times while losing 10 games in regulation and three times in extra time.
To put it simply, after falling behind last season, the Rangers were able to salvage 58% of the points in those 50 games. This year, they have been able to salvage 48% of the available points.
Again, it appears that they may have it fixed. In the last eight games that the Rangers have trailed, they have won six times. It’s one big reason why they are back as one of the top teams in the NHL.