Applying Sabermetrics to Hockey III - FIP to ERA is relCF% to relGF%

Part One - Bill James's Pythagorean expectation
Part Two - Pitching Runs Applied to Goalies
It's fun seeing how my plotting skills have improved over time... anyway...

Stats for this blog were provided by corsica.hockey

Will try to keep the baseball teaching short in this one and get to the meat... 

FIP is a statistic that was introduced as a way to evaluate pitchers with a slight difference to ERA. FIP, fielding independent pitching, serves as a way of evaluating pitchers on the things that the pitchers can control and does not allow the pitcher to play victim to the defense behind him. The formula: 

FIP = ((13*HR)+(3*(BB+HBP))-(2*K))/IP + constant

The constant exists to bring FIP closer to an ERA scale, and is dependent on around the league factors. 

Click here if you want to read more about FIP

What's interesting about FIP is that analysts began to notice that it was a better predictor for a pitcher's future ERA than ERA was, and thus, the importance of FIP was born.

So naturally, I had the thought. Since shot attempts for are a predictor for goals for, is it possible that an individual player's relative shot attempt % is a better predictor for their future relative goals for % than historical relative goals for %?

The answer is yes.

To test this out, I used three different data sets with splits for all positions, only forwards, and only defensemen.

  1. First half of 2015-2016 versus second half of 2015-2016
    1. Minimum 21 games played in both halves
  2. 2014-2015 versus 2015-2016
    1. Minimum 41 games played in both seasons
  3. 2012-2014 versus 2014-2016
    1. Minimum 82 games played in both two season spans

In all three data sets, relCF% performed better as a predictor than did relGF% This was across all positions, subset of forwards, and subset of defensemen. 

Charts to follow, but here is the summary as well showing all Adjusted R^2 for each data set:

And now, enjoy this inundation of charts [in same order as chart above. GF% first, then CF%]

JT Miller and the New Normal

stats for this blog provided by corsica.hockey

Take this blog with a grain of salt, but I did some digging tonight, and figured it would be worth it to put it on paper. There really isn't enough evidence to justify this one way or another.

There's no denying that JT Miller had his best season as a pro during the 2015-2016 campaign. As Gorton and the Rangers front office turns their eyes from unrestricted free agents (ahem, as I write this, Nakladal is still out there), to restricted free agents, they will of course evaluate JT.

And what to do with JT. 

As the bridge deal begins to become obsolete, teams instead opting to sign their young talent longer-term, giving up some of the "leverage" teams have in the RFA process, I think Miller is a prime candidate for a bridge deal.

Let me explain why.

Last season, JT recorded an individual Fenwick shooting percentage of 11.18%. Among forwards who played in over 500 minutes of 5v5 time last season, it ranked 19 out of 353. Pretty high. Slightly encouraging here is that of those 19 players, Miller recorded the 6th highest individual Fenwick for per 60, so it wasn't a fluke because of a low amount of shot numbers. 

Here is where it becomes discouraging.

Miller's aggregated iFSh% from 2012-2015 (three seasons) was just 5.38% His increase from 5.38% to the 11.18% is a 107.81% increase. Among all players who played at least 1000 total minutes 5v5 from 2012-2015, and 500 minutes 5v5 in 2015-2016, only 6 players saw an increase of 100% or more, JT included. 

To see how this effected players in the past, I used the same parameters for players from 2011-2014, and the 2014-2015 season. In this sample, there were 11 players who increased their iFSH over 100% Gomez, Bouma, Tootoo, Bernier, Desjardins, Dubinsky, Comeau, Beagle, Winnik, Sheppard, and Downie. 

Of these 11 players, 6 would play in at least 500 minutes of 5v5 hockey in 2015-2016. Very unfortunately, every single one of these 6 players saw their iFSh% decrease from their number in 14-15 (the number that was 100% higher than their 2011-2014 numbers) to their 2015-2016 iFSh%

Tootoo: -81.8%
Desjardins: -38%
Dubinsky: -33%
Comeau: -50%
Beagle: -15.8%
Winnik: -31.7%

So, the question then becomes, is this the new normal for JT, or should we expect a regression closer to his career iFSh%? Is this something the Rangers can or should gamble on by giving him a four-year deal or longer? Of course, the opposite is also a gamble. Give JT a two-year deal, if he keeps up this shooting, he'll be due for a raise in the 2018 off-season, two seasons earlier than he would be if he was given a four-year deal today.

JT had 152 individual unblocked shot attempts last season during 5v5 play. He scored 17 goals to bring his iFSh% to 11.18%. If JT's shooting percentage decreases 33% from 15-16 to 16-17 to 7.45%, he'll score 11 goals at a similar rate of shooting.

Is this the new normal for JT? Let's see what the Rangers think.  

Let's Talk About Jakub Nakladal

Because for some reason, no one else is.

Stats and visualizations for this post from corsica.hockey, RK_Stimp, and hockeyviz.com

It's at this moment that I've realized that some people reading this post might not even know who Jakub Nakladal is. On the one hand, that's good, he'll be a huge bargain as an unrestricted free agent this season to a wise team. On the other hand, it can't be fun for Nakladal himself or his agent. 

Nakladal is a 28 year old defenseman who shoots right handed, has size (6'2", 212lbs), and hails from the Czech Republic. Place of citizenship is important because Nakladal has been selected to represent the Czech Republic at this summer's World Cup of Hockey where he will undoubtedly prove right the team that signs him in July.

The 2015-2016 season was Nakladal's first in North America splitting time between the Calgary Flames and their AHL affiliate Stockton Heat. On the surface, Nakladal's numbers aren't that sexy. 5 points in 27 NHL games, 14 points in 35 AHL games. 

My argument is that there is Anton Stralman levels of untapped potential in Nakladal.

Nakladal ended the season in Calgary, and his overview chart is as follows:

There are a few key takeaways from this chart. First, as he continued to spend time in Calgary, his time on ice per game increased at a constant rate. Despite being shuffled around a bit, though spending most of his time with Tyler Wotherspoon, Nakladal was an overly successful possession player on a not so strong possession team in the Flames who would finish 23rd in score and venue adjusted CF% last season.

In his 27 games last season with the Flames, Nakladal would finish with a relCF% of +4.72%, best among Calgary d-men. Another metric in which he led Calgary d-men? Individual shot attempts per 60 coming in at a whopping 13, good for 11th in the league among D with at least 300 minutes on ice. Nakladal has a cannon of a shot, and he clearly isn't afraid to use it. 

As the season went on, it appeared that Calgary knew that Nakladal deserved more time, and they gave it to him.

In his 27 games, Calgary had a player who was driving offense, deserving of more ice time, and making the players around him better.

Surely, it is in Calgary's gameplan to sign Nakladal. There are now four days to go until other teams can start talking with free agents and begin the courtship. You have to believe that one of the more analytically inclined teams like Arizona or Florida (Campbell replacement and Yandle partner?) are going to begin the process. It may be in Calgary's interest to lock Nakladal up and make sure they keep him around.

And it shouldn't take much. This is performance in only 27 games. But it is positive performance, and there is reason to believe there's more where it came from. This is the kind of player that you can throw a one-year deal at for roughly $1 million, and let him come into your training camp and prove that he's earned that spot. There is untapped potential in Jakub Nakladal.

Keep an eye on him at the World Cup of Hockey. I know I'll be. 

Re-Tooling the Rangers in one Off-Season

Note: The more I wrote in this blog, the more I hated it. It's not that I necessarily dislike the team that I've built, it's more of the hesitation that I know basically everything I wrote up isn't going to happen. There is no doubt that the New York Rangers need change. There is no doubt that the FO needs to give AV the players he needs to succeed. There is no doubt that a few players, for lack of a better term, need to be forced off of this team for the Rangers to succeed. At the end of writing this up, I didn't even want to post it, but I think that's sort of the opposite reason that blogs even exist. So. Enjoy. 

For the first time in my life, I don't envy the General Manager of the New York Rangers. Jeff Gorton, though being in the Rangers organization since 2007, inherited a team from Glen Sather prior to the 15-16 season that was broken. Even within the Rangers, it didn't sound like there was much confidence in the team this season. How many times to Alain Vigneault go on the record saying that this team deserves "one more kick at the can"? And that's all well and good. Having loyalty to a core of players that has given you everything they can doesn't go unnoticed among player circles.

But at what cost?

The 2015-2016 season for the New York Rangers was a failure. From top to bottom. Front office to coaching to the players on the ice. It's easy to say it just wasn't their year, but it is more than that. The core went rotten. The Rangers need a re-tool.

Henrik Lundqvist is 34 years old. When people cite that the Rangers window is closing, it's more a testament to Lundqvist heading towards the end of his career. I think these comments are somewhat unfounded. Despite not being recognized this year, Lundqvist actually recorded a career high save percentage during 5v5 play. In fact, his save percentage this year was the 2nd best recorded save percentage @ 5v5 since the lockout (among goalies who appeared in 60 or more games) behind Carey Price's historic season last year. If the Rangers penalty kill this season wasn't a complete abomination, Lundqvist would be getting Vezina consideration.

The point of that last paragraph being, the Rangers still have one of the best goalies in the world between the pipes for them, even at age 34, and if the defense in front of him can get their game together, and avoid giving up so many high-danger-scoring-chances, then Henrik Lundqvist can continue to carry the Rangers.

It is based on this logic that the New York Rangers need a 'simple' re-tool, and not a massive rebuild. 

Alain Vingealut will be the coach of the Rangers next season. It is on Jeff Gorton and the front office to get Vigneault the horses he needs to play the system he wants. The Rangers need at a minimum four defensemen who can pick up the puck in their own end, and make a quick breakout pass to the wingers; not only to exit their own zone quickly, but force the quick transition game that AV hockey depends on.

This season, the Rangers had Yandle, McDonagh, and McIlrath (when he played) as the defensemen capable of collecting the puck in the corner, winning the 50/50 battle, picking their head up, and moving the puck. Dan Boyle would too often lose these battles. Kevin Klein was borderline for me to be included in that list. Dan Girardi couldn't do either, and Marc Staal's wild inconsistency leave him in no man's land. Having only three d-men who could consistently play that game; one of whom was injured often, and the other who for some reason couldn't break into the lineup, isn't enough for AV to play AV hockey. At it's ultimate, this is one of the main reasons the Rangers were such an awful possession team this season.

The rest of this blog is predicated on two hypothetical moves that may actually be quite a big road block for the Rangers to accomplish. These two moves are:

  1. Buyout Dan Girardi
  2. Trade Rick Nash

Buying out Dan Girardi might be the only way to convince the loyal Blueshirt to move on. He'll get his money, and be able to sign wherever he pleases, rather than putting his faith in the Rangers to work out a deal to send him somewhere he may be willing to relocate. A Dan Girardi buyout for the Rangers looks as follows:

via generalfanager.com

via generalfanager.com

The cap implications for this buyout are minimal, and worth it. The Rangers will save money during the years where Girardi would've been on the team, and then lose $1.25m per year for four seasons after G's contract would have expired. At that point, with all the expansion being planned for the league, and the Canadian dollar rebounding, it isn't farfetched to believe the cap ceiling could be upwards of $80m. At that level, $1.25m is a drop in the ocean (a thing that being the Rangers allows you to say).

In the mean time, the Rangers save some much needed cap.

The second move here is trading Rick Nash. Is it that hard to believe that the Rangers could get a Kessel-like return for Nash? 

Kessel was traded from the Leafs to the Penguins on the first day of free-agency this past off-season. At the time of the trade, Kessel had 7 years remaining on his contract. The Leafs would retain enough salary to put Kessel's AAV for the Penguins at $6.8m. Kessel plus a 2nd round draft pick returned a nothing d-man, a very-good prospect, a decent bottom-6 forward, and two draft picks including a first-rounder. In the two seasons leading up to the trade, Kessel would record 62 goals and 141 points in 164 games (.86 points/game). Nash in his last two seasons has recorded 105 points including 57 goals in 139 games (.76 points/game). 

Nash, however, has just two years remaining on his deal -- not quite the 7 years that Kessel had at the time of his trade. Some possible landing spots for Nash could be Toronto to reunite with team Canada coach Mike Babcock, or San Jose, to unite with Joe Thornton. Thornton and Nash have skated together with team Canada, and also played in Switzerland together during both lockout seasons. Let's assume that Nash doesn't want to have the spotlight on him in Toronto (though, it would probably be on Matthews much more than Nash), and the Rangers deal him to San Jose. 

The trade:
Rick Nash (Rangers retain $1.8m) to San Jose for Melker Karlsson, Matt Nieto, 1st round pick (2017) and 3rd round pick (2016 - assuming this trade goes down before the draft).

Again, these aren't moves to be taken lightly. They are, in fact, quite unlikely moves. What they allow for is the Rangers to get rid of Girardi (to put it bluntly), and clear a bunch of cap to make the moves they need to make in order to stay competitive next season. On the surface, losing Nash is huge. But, last season, his impact on the players around him wasn't as big as it used to be. Of course, we are judging Nash on truly a down year.

Nash.png

Compared to last season...

The Rangers can survive in a post-Nash offense. He wasn't the player they needed him to be for them in the 15-16 season, and they can move on. I'm realizing now that the Rangers moving on from Nash probably deserves it's own post. Can go for days on this, and it'd be a good analysis, but I digress.

After these two moves, it becomes time to fill out the lineup.

We all know the Rangers have been, well, quick to abandon their draft picks on the hopes of winning a Stanley Cup. Fortunately, the NCAA undrafted free agent pool provides quite a bit of talent every season (see: Hayes, Kevin). This year's prized free agent? Jimmy Vesey. Vesey has decided not to sign with Nashville, the team that drafted him, and will become an unrestricted free agent (though still bound to the entry-level contract restrictions) in August. The Rangers would be wise to do what they can to get Vesey into the lineup. At this point, Vesey is good enough to step onto any team's third-line, the Rangers for certain. Promise him third-line minutes, and get Vesey to New York. 

Finally, we can evaluate where the Rangers stand:

Gone: Girardi, Nash, Boyle, Dominic Moore, Eric Staal, Yandle, Boyle, Stalberg(?)
Added: Vesey, Karlsson, Nieto
Need to be re-signed: Kreider, Hayes, Miller, McIlrath, Nieto

In order, above, let's say the cap hits file in as follows:

$4 (4 years), $2.5 (2 years), $2.5 (2 years), $0.8 (1 year), $1.25 (2 years)

Here's how the lineup looks now:

Kreider - Stepan - ________
Miller - Brassard - Zuccarello
Buchnevich - Hayes - Vesey
Nieto - Karlsson - Fast

McDonagh - Klein
Staal - ______
Skjei - McIlrath

Scratch: Hrivik (glass gets waived)

This team has the infusion of youth that the Rangers FO is looking for. It has limited turnover, with the "new" core staying together. Yes, Marc Staal is still in the lineup, and I think he has more value on the trade market than Dan Girardi would, but I believe moving them both this off-season is not what the Rangers are going to do. How much turnover is too much? How many veterans out of the lineup can we move?

The issue here, is that if the Rangers can move Staal as well, that opens up the money to re-sign Yandle. And, along with the other moves made here, leaves the Rangers with a hefty chunk of change to add free agents. Although, as much as the above would suggest otherwise, am I trying to keep this in the realm of possibilities - and Yandle moves on to test the free agent market.

Speaking of the free agent market, this is where the Rangers are going to need to be smart. Where the Rangers are going to ignore every single gut feeling they have, and make smart decisions. The issue with the two glaring decisions that I have wanted the Rangers to make to fill the holes in the lineup above (top-6 RWer, and top-4 d-man) are that both of my targets are having insane playoff runs right now, and jacking up their market prices.

Signings:

David Backes (3 years, $4.5m AAV) and Jason Demers (5 years, $5m AAV).

Backes is following up a mediocre regular season with an absolutely insane playoffs for the Blues right now. He is part of the group of players absolutely putting the team on his back, as a true captain does. Will St. Louis let Backes go if they end up making the WCF or the SCF? It's not hard to believe they won't. He is their captain. He's homegrown. He's finally delivering in the playoffs.

The are a few reasons I like Backes for the Rangers. Backes is a guy who can come in and add to the core. A veteran who is always in the playoffs. He has size, he shoots right-handed which is a huge lack for the Rangers at the forward depths right now. The speed of the game has caught up with Backes, but he is silencing the haters in the playoffs right now. I've kept a close eye on Backes these playoffs. He's not fast. He makes up for his current lack of speed with hockey instinct. He's in the right place at the right time. He's in front of the net. He's cleaning up rebounds. He's getting in on the forecheck and throwing the body. He's playing the puck well.

Despite the rough season, Backes was still 7th on the Blues in terms of 5v5 production (p/60) per corsica.hockey.

Backes is also quite a big part in the possession machine that the St. Louis Blues are.

This is the kind of signing that could be construed as the Rangers of old. Signing the veteran. Perhaps overpaying because he is on the free agent market. But this is the guy the Rangers need. Kreider and Miller can learn a ton about Backes. He'd fit into the locker room. It makes sense.

It makes a lot more sense than being the team that hands Okposo (basically a younger/better Backes right now), an insanely huge contract. Although, it would be quite fun to have Okposo in Rangers blue instead of Brooklyn black.

I'm signing Backes.

Next, Jason Demers.

Again, another guy whose playoff performance is lighting up ideas around the league. Demers and Goligoski are both going to be unrestricted free agents this off-season. They both deserve paydays. If the Rangers were in need of a LHD, I'd be typing this about Goligoski. The Rangers need a RHD. The Rangers need Demers.

Demers is an AV defensemen. His bonafide possession game highlights the fact that he can move the puck. In the regular season, Demers was a 54.17% CF% player, with a differential of +159, a +1.25 cfRel player to the rest of his Stars counterparts. Demers' with or without you chart details a much more important story:

Johnny Oduya was Demers' most popular partner this season. Just look at what being paired with Demers did for Oduya. Wonders. Demers won't add much on the scoresheet, recording just 23 points this past season, but he'll keep the puck out of his own end, and he'll move it up the ice quickly. AV needs that. The Rangers need that.

If you need a comparable player to Demers, look no further than Anton Stralman. Both are possession gurus. Both can add offense, but not much (though Stralman's offensive game has come to life in TB as part of the PP). 

The Rangers know exactly what Marc Staal can do paired with a player like Demers, because that's exactly what Staal did with Stralman.

Take a look at Marc Staal's overview in the 13-14 season where he found himself paired with Stralman on a nightly basis:

That smoothed shot chart has a whole lot of grey in it.

Final roster:

Kreider - Stepan - Backes
Miller - Brassard - Zuccarello
Buchnevich - Hayes - Vesey
Nieto - Karlsson - Fast
Hrivik

McDonagh - Klein
Staal - Demers
Skjei - McIlrath

Hank
Raanta

(Lindberg omitted as he is out injured until November).

This roster is cap compliant. It adds youth. It lets the "new" core of the Rangers take the reigns. It gives AV the defense he needs to compete. It's a fast team in terms of skating, and in terms of moving the puck; each d-pairing have at least one player who can move the puck up the ice quick.

The Rangers don't need to look exactly this way next season, but if they want to stay competitive while moving away from the past, this is the way they can look.

Why Alain Vigneault Failed the Rangers

stats and visualizations for this blog have been provided by Hockeyviz.com, corsica.hockey, and stats.hockeyanalysis.com

After a day to reflect on the end of the New York Rangers 2015-2016 campaign, my initial thought has not been swayed. Coach Alain Vigneault failed the New York Rangers organization this season. 

There are a few reasons that stick out on specifically how AV failed this year. Some easy to prove, others not as easy.

In no particular order but how they pop into my mind, I'd say the following are the most egregious in my opinion:

  1. Inability to adjust
  2. Inability to evaluate his personnel appropriately
    1. Use, or lack thereof of young talent
    2. Use, in this case too much, of struggling veterans
  3. Special teams... what the hell?

No three of these things should come as a surprise to Rangers fans. These three items where AV failed the Rangers were the top three items discussed by Vancouver Canucks fans in their warnings to New York in 2013; specifically AV's puzzling use of his personnel, which is where I'm going to focus this blog.

First, let's talk about Eric Staal. Hindsight is 20/20 on this one, but I'm not even going to change my position on this trade; I thought it was great. Two 2nd rounders and a 'closer-to-probably-than-maybe' prospect for Eric Staal 50% retained is a good deal to me. The issue with the Eric Staal trade is that AV had absolutely no idea how to use him.

Despite playing on the wing in Carolina, AV had Eric Staal playing center for the Rangers, claiming it was where Staal was more comfortable. I have no issue with that. My issue with AV's use of E. Staal is his admitted carousel of wingers that he tried to use with him before mind-bogglingly settling on Jesper Fast and Kevin Hayes. Hayes, an abomination on the wing, was flipped with Staal at C to see if that line could work, and it still didn't.

What truly baffles here is that AV found the correct linemates for Eric Staal during his 3rd game as a Ranger - in between Viktor Stalberg and Oscar Lindberg. During their short-lived three game stance together, everyone could see that this line was dominating the play when they were on the ice. In terms of possession, they would accumulate an individual shot attempt differential of:

Staal: +23
Stalberg: +22
Lindberg: +22

After a 4-2 victory over Buffalo where Eric Staal would put 5 shots on net out of 6 attempts, the line was broken up with Rick Nash returning from injury. Nash and Staal were given two games with each other before AV realized it wasn't working. Rather than reuniting the proven line of Stalberg-Staal-Lindberg, AV rotated the carousel once again stashing Staal between Hayes and Miller for four games, Hayes and Kreider for one, and then Hayes and Fast where Staal would finish the season.

Looking at Eric Staal's with or without you chart via Hockeyviz.com should tell you a lot of what you need to know about AV and his use of Eric Staal.

A great key takeaway of this image? Staal's second most common icemate was Dan Boyle. A defensemen. A forward's 2nd most common teammate was a d-man. Let that sink in a bit. 

Eric Staal is a great microcosm of AV and his inability to apply his personnel correctly. There are two more standout cases for AV and this phenomena. Next, we will take a brief look at Oscar Lindberg.

Between March 13th and April 23rd, the Rangers played 18 games. On March 13th, among rookies who had played in more than 35 [roughly half the Rangers season up until that point] games on that date, Oscar Lindberg was 11th among all NHL rookies in points per 60 (Connor McDavid at that point had played in 34 games, so 12th if you include him, which you should). This date is important because after March 13th, Oscar Lindberg would play in just four more games for the Rangers. Meanwhile, Tanner Glass would appear in 17 games, not being a healthy scratch until the Rangers final game. If you're curious, Glass would record 2 points in those final 17 games. 

Against the Penguins, AV was desperate to have his team create more offense. Desperate enough to put Rafael Diaz into the lineup. Meanwhile, Oscar Lindberg sat in the pressbox. When Lindberg would finally get into a game, it would be at the expense of Kevin Hayes, and Tanner Glass remained in the lineup. This, from a coach desperate to create offense... Here is how Hayes, Lindberg, and Glass stacked up in 5v5 points per 60 this season.

If he was trying to generate offense, AV wasn't doing himself any favors continuing to handcuff himself to Tanner Glass.

On to the biggest error of AV's season: Breaking up the defensive pairing of Dylan McIlrath and Keith Yandle.

The Rangers drafted Dylan McIlrath in 2010. You all know this story. McIlrath was perenially destroyed by the fanbase as long as he was not in the NHL. This, even from the casual observer who had never seen him play in Moose Jaw nor in Hartford - purely judging McIlrath's skill after two brief stints in the NHL where he totaled 3 games between two seasons. Run-of-the-mill stuff no doubt, but still very frustrating.

This season, McIlrath was able to earn a spot on the Rangers and in the NHL full-time. When he played (not anchored by Dan Boyle), he proved to be a serviceable NHL defenseman in the modern-day sense. Capable of collecting the puck in his own corner and making a quick outlet pass to start a rush, being able to stop an opposition rush down the wing with a bone-crushing hit, or force players outside the circles where they would fire weak shots on net, or get no shot off at all.

Complemented by the puck-moving abilities of Keith Yandle, they would go on to form what could have been a borderline great NHL 2nd defensive pairing behind McDonagh and Klein. When they were on the ice together, during 5v5 play, the Rangers had 53% of the shot attempts, and 62% of the goals, scoring at a clip of 2.06 GF60 while surrendering just 1.29 GA60. In fact, on the whole season, McIlrath's goals against per 60 would lead the Rangers, with the opposition scoring just 1.37 goals per 60 minutes of 5v5 time versus McIlrath. In the past, I have mentioned not using goals against per 60 as a way to evaluate defensemen. However, since we are only comparing McIlrath to his teammates, in this sense, the skill of the goaltender remains constant, and we can use it in this evaluation.

The Rangers organization has now invested 6 years into developing Dylan McIlrath since his draft day. They have stuck with him through knee injuries that derailed his progress at the AHL level. Finally, McIlrath pays that back in full, and yet his coach refuses to play him full-time despite outplaying veterans Dan Boyle and Dan Girardi - both of whom should be far, far away from the Rangers next season.

At the beginning of the season, AV mentioned how important it would be to be able to get Boyle and Girardi their rest during the regular season to keep them fresh for the stretch run and the eventual playoffs the Rangers were bound to appear in. Vigneault would quickly back off of his word with moves like rushing Dan Girardi back from a cracked knee-cap that he clearly was not healed from, and removing McIlrath from Yandle's pairing to allow Girardi back into the lineup. Dan Boyle, the 39 year-old d-man on his last legs, would appear in 78 of the Rangers 87 games this season. 

Despite the length of this blog, this is truly just a brief overview of the issues I had with the way that AV ran the Rangers this season. I believe fully that the Rangers would be better off moving on from Alain Vigneault as their head coach, and hiring someone in his place who is a little more open to the growing analytical aspect of hockey. Perhaps a coach who would realize that he had a great third line with Stalberg-Staal-Lindberg; a coach that realized that if he wanted to increase his offensive output, maybe taking out two of his best 5v5 offensive threats wasn't the best move; and maybe, a coach who could see how well McIlrath and Yandle played together, and keep that as a pair moving forward, not forcing them apart because Dan Girardi was returning from injury prematurely.

I'd be surprised if AV wasn't behind the bench for the Rangers next season. If that is the case, than Jeff Gorton, I plead with you: Give AV the horses he needs to run his unbelievably stubborn man-to-man defensive zone coverage. Boyle is gone, but if you're going to keep AV around, you need to force Marc Staal and Dan Girardi off of their No Movement Clauses, and off of the New York Rangers.