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A Little Scratched Glass Can Go A Long Way For Rangers

The New York Rangers biggest asset is their forward depth; they have the ability to roll out four good, deep, talented lines.

However, sometimes they do not.

Head Coach Alain Vigneault, despite being a good coach, is enamored with fourth line grinder Tanner Glass, although he is a black hole in terms of possession.

In 66 games last year, Tanner Glass had six points (one goal and five assists). Despite being a fourth line player, and not seeing as much time on the ice as the players above him, six points in 66 games is downright atrocious, especially since he had a high (for a fourth line, defensive minded player) 32.9% offensive zone starts.

His Corsi (basically plus/minus for shot attempts, 50% is average) and Fenwick (same thing as Corsi, but taking away blocked shots) percentages are below average, coming in at 43.1% and 42.3% respectively. His CF% Rel (Relative Corsi For% at even strength, meaning the shot attempts the entire team has when the player is dressed, but not on the ice) is a -8.7; that is not ideal. It is clear that his inclusion in the lineup hurts the Rangers.


Just one look at his HERO chart shows that he is not even giving the production that a typical fourth liner gives (outside of assists); and this is the player Coach AV dressed 66 times during the regular season, and 19 games throughout the playoffs. While he was better in the playoffs (one assist, 45.1 Corsi, 44.3 Fenwick, and a -7.3 CF% Rel) he was still below average.

Now, as we fast forward to this year, we see the Rangers are in a cap crunch. They have $150,500 in cap room to play with; that is absolutely nothing for an NHL team. And Tanner Glass is making $1,450,000 this year. It seems as though the (maddingly) obvious solution is the release, bury (in the AHL) or trade Glass. However, that has not happened yet, and he has seen action in two NHL games in the young season.

The inclusion of Glass effects the entire team, especially the forth line. In the first loss of the season, Tuesday against Winnipeg, the fourth line, Glass-Stoll-Moore had a total C+/- (Corsi on ice differential; 0 is even shots, positive number is positive shots generated, negative number is negative shots generated) had a combined -31, with Glass leading the way with a -12. The top line, Nash-Brassard-Zuccarello, had a combined 41, with Rick Nash leading the way with a 16. The lines could not be polar opposites.

In the lost against Montreal on October 15th, VAV dressed a fourth line of Etem (in his Rangers debut)-Moore-Fast; this line combined for a CF +/- of -16, which, while still low (it is a fourth line, remember), is not the abomination that the fourth line dressed just two days before was. It was a vast improvement, mostly because of how strong a possession player Jesper Fast is.

Fast, in the 58 games he played in the 2014-15 season, had a Corsi of 49.5% and a Fenwick of 50.4%; he is far superior in possession stats than Glass is, and therefore the Rangers have the puck more while he is dressed. His CF% Rel is positive, although only a 0.9, which is another piece of evidence that shows his impact on the game.

Another mainstay (thus far) in that fourth line is Jarrett Stoll. Stoll, who has plenty of playoff (and Stanley Cup winning) experience, and is a force on the faceoff dot, has struggled possession-wise; he only has a 40.28% Corsi (of course, Jesper Fast is struggling as well, with an abysmal 35.8%). However, Fast has much more upside than Stoll, and he has proven to be a very valuable player in both the regular season and the playoffs (despite his Corsi going down to 45.4% in last year’s playoffs, he registered six points, three goals and three assists, in 19 games. That is very productive from a lower line player).

After the loss to Montreal, AV is at a fork in the road, even this early in the season. Although it is very early, and the lineup in October usually does not reflect the lineup in the playoffs, AV has shown a strong, and simply confusing, loyalty to Tanner Glass, and has scratched superior players to get his physical (although if he is never around the puck, how effective can his physicality be?) play into the lineup, even in the playoffs. He did this during their time together in Vancouver, even dressing him during a Game 7 of a Stanley Cup Final; a game Vancouver would go on to lose to Boston. AV has to prove to all of us that he can see how much worse the offense is with Glass dressed, as opposed to when he is in the press box.

The fourth line is not the first line; it is much smaller in importance, it has less time on the ice, but that does not mean AV should not dress the best twelve forwards he can on any given night. A lineup of Nash-Brassard-Zuccarello, Kreider-Stepan-Hayes, Miller-Lindberg-Stalberg, Etem-Moore-Fast, with Glass and Stoll as the extras, gives the Rangers the best chances of winning night in and night out, and the best chance of finally getting over the hump and winning that elusive Stanley Cup trophy. This Ranger team is good; they won the President’s Trophy last year, and was a period away from beating Tampa Bay and returning to the Stanley Cup Final. This team is capable of winning the Cup, but sending out the best 12 forwards the Rangers can is imperative. They will be hard pressed on achieving their ultimate goal when possession black holes such as Tanner Glass start over strong possession players such as Jesper Fast.

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