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Thoughts on the Rangers forward rotation – Blue Seat Blogs

When news broke that Will Cuylle would likely be the healthy scratch tonight against the Devils, the reactions were less than favorable, but expected. The Rangers forward rotation was always going to be a roller coaster ride, and that won’t change.

But you know what’s changed?

The expectations coming from the Rangers forward rotation have changed. Specifically, this appears to be a two man rotation, and not a full rotation. And that may present a problem now and in the playoffs.

1. Risking beating a dead horse again, it’s a mistake to leave Barclay Goodrow off the Rangers forward rotation. We know his 5v5 numbers are quite horrible, and that isn’t going to change. It’s just what it is at this point. Goodrow has been left in the lineup because he has been one of their go-to penalty killers, and he’s been pretty good in this role.

Ignoring the 5v5 stats (all the red bars) and focusing on the 4v5 numbers (the only blue bars), we see that Goodrow is actually pretty good at killing penalties. Is that enough to leave him in the lineup? Peter Laviolette seems to think so.

That was a few too many words to say that while Goodrow is probably their worst 5v5 skater, he’s one of their better penalty killers.

Aside: Chart above from Evolving-Hockey. All numbers below from Natural Stat Trick.

2. Jimmy Vesey has been getting a pass for the most part, but it does look like he could benefit from being included in the Rangers forward rotation. His last 4 games have been a tire fire. When on the ice, his shot attempt split is -45, his high danger attempt split is -10, and his goal split is -4. That’s atrocious.

His deployment and usage hasn’t changed much in the last four games, so this isn’t on his usage. He’s in a big time rut and, quite frankly, is far more deserving to sit than Will Cuylle.

3. To be fair, we have to at least look at Cuylle’s numbers to see if he should be sitting too. His last 4 games haven’t been pretty, sitting at a -31 shot differential, a -6 HD chance differential, and a -5 goal differential. So it’s not like Cuylle has been playing lights out and deserves to stay in the lineup, so don’t kid yourself.

The question isn’t whether Cuylle’s play warrants him sitting. The question is whether the play of Vesey and Goodrow warrants their inclusion in the Rangers forward rotation to close out the season.

The answer is a clear yes. Even if the numbers are not the whole story (they are not the whole story), it’s clear both have been fighting it at 5v5 and, as veterans, may benefit from a night off here and there. Keep them fresh and save them for the playoffs.

4. In an attempt to nip this in the bud, Jonny Brodzinski’s splits are solid and he does not belong in the Rangers forward rotation, assuming it’s based on play. His shot differential is -5, his HD shot differential is -5, and his goal differential is -1. The HD chance differential isn’t good, but everything else is far better than Vesey, Cuylle, and Goodrow.

For what it’s worth, and you probably don’t need these numbers to solidify the point on Goodrow, his differentials are -45, -12, and -4, respectively.

5. The Rangers forward rotation has been and is going to continue to be a roller coaster ride. Living and dying by each daily lineup change isn’t good for your health. Hopefully the weather clears up after this storm passes and we can all go outside a little more when we see stuff like this that frustrates us.

6. On Matt Rempe, it’s tough to use his shot splits because, well, he doesn’t play enough. Rempe has played 13 games and has eclipsed 6 minutes TOI (at 5v5) in just 6 of them. He’s eclipsed 10 minutes just once. This is due to many factors, but it’s mostly penalties.

When he’s on the ice and actually in the game, he’s doing pretty well. His HD chance differential is +3 and his shot differential is -1. The Rangers have 4 goals with him on the ice, allowing just 2 against.

The concern with Rempe, and why he’s in the Rangers forward rotation, is that he’s rarely on the ice. He can’t be counted on if he can’t control his body.

7. I still don’t think Rempe will be on the playoff roster, but Rob pointed out in the BSB group chat that he could be a good energy guy if the Rangers come out flat in a Game 1 at home. That’s a very good point.

Hopefully being a part of the Rangers forward rotation will give Rempe some time to watch video and work on some finer points to his game, perhaps only delivering hits from his knees or from a squatting position.

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