NHL.com is providing in-depth analysis for each of its 31 teams throughout August. Today, three key statistics for the New York Rangers.
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1. Scoring boost
The Rangers dropped from 253 goals in 2016-17, which ranked fourth in the NHL, to 228 last season, tied with the Chicago Blackhawks for 21st. The difference of minus-25 was the largest decrease in the NHL.
One area for improvement is scoring from their defensemen. Their leading scorer at the position last season was Ryan McDonagh, who had 26 points (two goals, 24 assists) in 49 games before being traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Feb. 26.
The Rangers have three defensemen who could score 40 points this season. Kevin Shattenkirk, who has at least 43 points in six of his eight NHL seasons, was limited to 46 games because of season-ending knee surgery Jan. 22 and finished with 23 points (five goals, 18 assists). Rookie Neal Pionk had 14 points (one goal, 13 assists) in 28 games, which projects to 41 points in 82 games. Brady Skjei, who had 39 points (five goals, 34 assists) in 80 games as a rookie in 2016-17, had 25 points (four goals, 21 assists) in 82 games.
Video: TBL@NYR: Skjei nets wrister from top of the cricle
2. Stepping up
New York's top five scorers combined for 227 points (95 goals, 132 assists) last season, 31st in the NHL. The Rangers will continue to rely heavily on Mika Zibanejad, who led them with 27 goals and 212 shots on goal. Zibanejad's 14 power-play goals were tied for sixth in the NHL.
New York's share of 5-on-5 shot attempts increased from 44.23 to 51.45 percent with Zibanejad on the ice for a relative SAT of plus-7.22 percent that ranked fifth in the NHL among those to play at least 20 games.
Video: NYR@PHI: Zibanejad makes nice move, goes five-hole
3. Pressure in net
The Rangers allowed an average of 35.3 shots per game, second highest in the NHL after the New York Islanders (35.6) and their highest since giving up 37.5 per game in 1963-64.
Higher shot volumes placed additional pressure on goalie Henrik Lundqvist, whose save percentage has dropped from a previous NHL career average of .920 through the end of 2015-16 to .913 the past two seasons.
Should Lundqvist falter, the Rangers are without an experienced backup. Marek Mazanec, Alexandar Georgiev and Brandon Halverson have played a combined 17 NHL games over the past four seasons.