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Despite the Stats, Rangers Keep Winning

The New York Rangers won again on Monday night when they defeated the Nashville Predators 3-0 at Madison Square Garden. Yet there were many who said the Rangers had no business winning this game, setting off a lot of worry — maybe even panic — amongst Rangers fans and reporters who are predicting that the bottom will soon fall out on this winning team.

The worry stems from the Rangers struggles in scf (scoring chances for), corsi (shots + shots attempts that missed the net + shot attempts that were blocked), shot differential per game, and the team’s very high save percentage through its first 21 games played. The mantras from the crowd are that “this is not sustainable” as the way of playing for the rest of the season and that “the team cannot rely on Henrik alone.”

But despite all the nay-saying and doubt, the Rangers sit second overall in the NHL standings and first overall in the eastern conference (tied for points with both Dallas and Montreal with the tiebreaker over the Canadiens but not the Stars); and with their 16 wins and 34 points there are 27 other teams that would love to be in the Rangers’ position at the moment.

The Rangers are also currently scoring at a good rate, especially in the third period where they are outscoring opponents 24-13 and averaging a little over one third period goal per game. They also rank third in the NHL in goals overall. So despite the fact that they are not getting enough high quality scoring opportunities, they are still putting the puck in the net.

Plus, if you’ve been watching the Rangers since the beginning of the Henrik Lundqvist era, there has always been an overreliance on the goalie to win hockey games. Why should that change now?

So, is this sustainable? Of course not, because they play 82 games in the NHL. And over the course of those 82 games the Rangers will struggle, they will lose, and they will lose games where their corsi is relatively good and they have a lot of high danger scoring opportunities. That is the way of the world. But they are also talented enough in all facets of the game that they will find ways to win more times than not.

Ultimately, stats may tell one story, but the play on the ice is telling another. There is no reason for the Rangers to apologize for their play or for their wins. Instead of being caught up in the fear that the stats show, we should instead be looking at this as an opportunity for the Rangers to improve. If they haven’t played their best hockey yet and are still winning, then they can only get better from here.

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