Some random thoughts before Tuesday’s practice:
<li>A number of readers have pointed out how Scott Gomez seems to be shooting much more this season. It’s true, Gomez was among the league leaders in shots taken before missing five games with an ankle injury. And he’s still ranked 24th with 82 shots in 22 games (Chris Drury ranks first on the Rangers and 12th in the league with 87).
Of course, Gomez sports only a paltry 4.9 shooting percentage, which suggests that while he’s improved in his willingness to shoot, he hasn’t necessarily improved his shot. I know that Tom Renney last season wanted to get Gomez to fire more pucks on net, so Gomez shooting more may be a case of the coaching staff encouraging him to do so. Or it could be a reflecion of the fact that after playing most of last season with Brendan Shanahan, one of the great snipers in league history, he doesn’t yet have the linemate that he’s consistently looking for in the slot. Hence he’s the one taking more shots.
That’s my theory at least. I’ll investigate later.
<li>Meanwhile, shots-on-goal in general is a pretty misleading statistic. If a team is badly outshooting another, it may be indicative of a team being able to move the puck up ice efficiently. But those shots could still be from the perimeter, which most opponents don’t mind facing since more often than not it’s simply a chance to get the puck back.
The Rangers, like most teams, prefer to measure “chances,” which is not an official statistic, but something they monitor on their own. It’s basically any shot from relatively close range in the middle of the ice. You would think that the league with all its resources could figure out a way to measure that, since it would be a much better gauge.
<li>As for Renney’s comment about the press writing about the power play, I realize it sounds like he was blaming the media, but he wasn’t. What the coach was saying is that a team’s shortcomings on the power play takes on a life of its own when it’s not only reflected in the league statistics, but something that is almost a daily topic of discussion. He didn’t say we were wrong in writing about it. He was just saying shrewd opposing coaches are likely paying attention.
It’s hardly my job to defend the Rangers coach. He’s a smart enough guy on his own and the Rangers have a full PR staff to help try to spin things in their favor.
If you don’t like decisions the coach has made, that’s more than fair. I have my own quibbles as well — from why the team doesn’t call up a seventh defenseman to spell one of their struggling regulars; to the complete alienation of Petr Prucha; to the coach’s heavy reliance on his fourth line. But I’m not sure it’s fair to completely misinterpret something the coach has said and then use it as ammunition against him.
OK, that’s enough from this soapbox.
More from practice in a bit…