Had some time yesterday (after some landscaping at Chez Zipay that my back is reminding me of today) for a dive into some deeper stats from last season. A compilation:
1. For those who say Brad Richards is more of a passer than scorer, well, he finished sixth in the NHL in missed shots with 122. Leader Alex Ovechkin had 159.
2. One cautionary stat for Richards: He ranked 12th in giveaways with 73. That’s somewhat understandable given that he ranked sixth in ice time among forwards: 21:43 per game. Brandon Dubinsky was No. 18 in ice time for forwards at 20:13.
3. If you think Sean Avery needs to get better shots on the net, correct. He ranked ninth in worst-shooting percentage (137 shots, 2.2 percent). Avery also was eighth in penalty minutes (172). Brandon Prust was 12th with 160.
4. Prust, by the way, was 2nd in the league to Craig Adams in percentage of points shorthanded. 24.1 percent of Prust’s 29 points came when the Rangers were down a man.
5. Why may Derek Stepan’s future be on the wing? He had the worst faceoff percentage in the league among players who took more than 700 draws (719): 38.5 percent.
6. Who’s the shootout trio for the Rangers this season? Pick three. Based on last year’s numbers: Richards (5 for 12), Mats Zuccarello (5 for 9), Erik Christensen (5 for 8), Wojtek Wolski (4 for 9).
7. Henrik Lundqvist was fifth in shootout-save percentage at .848 and 10th in even-strength save percentage at .930. He won 7 of 10 shootouts.
8. Hits? Brian Boyle was 11th with 240; Ryan Callahan, 15th with 224.
9. No Ranger was in the Top 20 in takeaways. Three Isles, though: John Tavares (fifth with 75), Michael Grabner (12th with 69), Frans Nielsen (14th with 66)
10. I’ve said before, one of the guys this team should have kept, Lauri Korpikoski, was third in best shooting percentage, scoring on 18.4 percent of his 103 shots. The Korpedo.
My way-too-early pick to win the East? The Caps. Love Tomas Vokoun, 6 SOs with the Panthers last season, .925 save percentage on the PK, 7th in save percentage in shootouts. If he's healthy, he'll produce. I'm expecting more from AO, Backstrom. They'll be bigger and tougher with wingers Troy Brouwer (fifth in hits with 262) and Joel Ward. The young D (Carlson, Alzner) is more experienced and Roman Hamrlik adds depth.
Improved in the East? Buffalo with Christian Ehrhoff and Ville Leino. More solid from goal out. West? Columbus. Rick Nash should have a monster year, especially on the power play with Jeff Carter and The Wiz and maybe Vinny Prospal. Really like prospect Ryan Johansen, too.