Rangers Postseason Primer: Part 2
In our last article we focused on some career playoff statistics for longtime Rangers. Today we will take a look at matchup statistics against the Rangers’ qualifying round opponent, the Carolina Hurricanes. We will also highlight some notable Hurricanes players the Rangers should look out for in the series.
Both New York and Carolina have a similar build for their teams. The average age of both teams is around 26 years old, which is among the top five youngest teams in the league. The Hurricanes are the more defensive team with solid offense, but have weak goaltending. The Rangers are more offensive minded and have good goaltending, but they are not as polished defensively. This is proven by looking at league statistics. Carolina is ranked 9th in goals against, while the Rangers are 24th. The Canes are 4th in PK% while the Blueshirts are 23rd. New York has a slight edge offensively as they scored 3.3 goals per game, which ties them for 5th, while Carolina scored 3.2 goals per game, tying them for 8th. The Rangers have the better shooting percentage and power play percentage. Finally, the Rangers have the advantage in goal with a save percentage of .908, ranked 11th, to Carolina’s .903 clip which places them 16th in the league.
Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac
Since the Rangers have Panarin and Zibanejad they have the option to pair them up to create a super first line or split them up to balance the scoring. However, the majority of the Rangers offense at the forward position comes from these two players; their combined 170 points make up 27% of the Rangers’ scoring. They still have Strome, Buchnevich, and Kreider who they can rely on to produce points but after that the production drops off as the next closest forward, Jesper Fast, only has 29 points. The Rangers also relied on their young defensive core to chip in on offense; they were among the highest percentage of points from defensemen per team.
On the other hand, the Hurricanes have a first line consisting of three really good players that all have a similar amount of points and those players are Sebastian Aho, Teuvo Teravainen, and Andrei Svechnikov. In fact all three were close to the point per game plateau with each of them having at least 60 points in 68 games played. Obviously most of any team’s offense comes from the top six because those are the players that are going to get the most shifts and ice time, but some teams generate more offense from their first two lines than other teams. For example, 55% of points came from the top six for the Rangers, while the Canes had a 48% mark. About half of those points for the Rangers came from Zibanejad and Panarin, as mentioned before. So if Carolina were to shut down even just one of those players it would be a huge negative for the Rangers. However, of the 48% of points from the top six for Carolina, 32% came from their first line. What this means is that if the Rangers could limit the amount of points that line produces, it would, of course, be a huge advantage. They were able to do this during the regular season as they held Carolina’s first line to a combined six points.
Most of the outcomes for the Rangers winning this series hinge on Zibanejad and Panarin. If they are quiet, Carolina should have an easier time playing the Blueshirts. However, if they produce like they did during the regular season, the Hurricanes will have a hard time keeping up with the Rangers’ offense because of Lundqvist, Georgiev, or Shesterkin. The Rangers still have a team to play in this series and I feel that people forget that despite us having a 4-0 record against the Hurricanes and that we have played very well against them in recent years, it’s the playoffs and anything can happen. Don’t forget the record-setting Tampa Bay Lightning were swept by the Columbus Blue Jackets last season. Either way, it should be an exciting best-of-five series.