Thursday, October 27, 2011
Road-weary Rangers finally home
By Vince Masi
The New York Rangers finished their seven-game season-opening road trip with an admirable 3-2-2 record. Because of the renovation ongoing at Madison Square Garden, the Rangers had to wait nearly three weeks until their first home game of the season, which comes tonight against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, this was the first time in franchise history that the Rangers started a season with seven road games in a row before their first game in New York.
Excluding the 1994-95 season, which didn’t begin until January because of a lockout, this will be the latest home opener for the Rangers in terms of calendar year since 1948, when they also played their first home game on October 27.
The 2011-12 Rangers hope that their season doesn’t turn out like that 1948-49 team, which finished 18-31-11 and in last place in the six-team NHL.
Islanders: one line is not enough
The New York Islanders opened the season with three wins in their first four games, but that strong start has been tempered by a three-game losing streak, which included a 3-0 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday.
The Islanders have really struggled to generate offense in these first few weeks, averaging just 2.00 goals per game (tied for 25th in NHL) and 26.7 shots per game (25th in NHL).
One issue for the Isles is that they aren’t getting much production beyond their first line of John Tavares, P.A. Parenteau and Matt Moulson. The trio has compiled nine goals and 13 assists for 22 points, while the other 16 players on the team have combined for just five goals and 15 points.
Behind The Net is a website with advanced hockey statistics and analysis, and it breaks down player performance in all situations. According to these numbers, the Islanders have nine players who are averaging 0.00 points per 60 minutes in 5-on-5 situations, the most of any NHL team (min. 5 games played).
Kovalchuk: too much time his skates?
Since Ilya Kovalchuk arrived in New Jersey and played his first game with the team on February 5, 2010, the New Jersey Devils have averaged the fewest goals per game in the league at 2.25 and are 27th in shots on goal per game at 28.7.
This season, it appears coach Peter DeBoer is allowing Kovalchuk to try and turn things around himself. Kovalchuk is averaging 26:29 time on ice per game, which is fifth in the league. The next-highest forward is Ryan Getzlaf of the Anaheim Ducks, who is at 23:36, ranked 33rd among all NHL players.
Since time-on-ice numbers became an official statistic in the 2000-01 season, the highest time on ice per game by a forward was Pavel Bure, who averaged 26:52 in 2000-01 for the Florida Panthers. Kovalchuk’s time this season would be the second-highest by a forward in that span.