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Hurricanes at Rangers: Preview

November closes with a battle between the two teams with the best and worst puck luck.

Jordan Staal is playing in his 200th game for the Hurricanes
Jordan Staal is playing in his 200th game for the Hurricanes
Jamie Kellner

Carolina Hurricanes at New York Rangers
November 30, 2015 - 7:00 pm ET
Madison Square Garden - New York, NY
Fox Sports Carolinas - 99.9 FM - WRALSportsFan app
SB Nation Rivals - Blueshirt Banter

Vital Statistics

Hurricanes Rangers
Record 8-11-4 16-6-2
Points 20 34
Division Rank 7th Metro 2nd Metro
Conference Rank 14th EC 3rd EC
Last 10 Games 3-3-4 6-4-0
Streak Lost 1 Lost 3

Goals/Game 2.04 2.88
Goals Against/Game 2.83 2.04
ES Goals For % 40.3% 66.2%
Shots/Game 30.5 27.9
Shots Against/Game 25.4 31.6
ES Corsi For % 54.1% 45.8%
Faceoff % 54.0% 49.4%
ES PDO 95.9 105.6
Power Play % (Rank) 13.0% 19.7%
Penalty Kill % (Rank) 76.5% 84.0%
PIM/Game 05:33 09:34

Goaltender #1 Ward Lundqvist
Record 7-7-3 12-5-2
ES Save % .906 .949
GAA 2.44 2.05

Goaltender #2 Lack Raanta
Record 1-4-1 4-1-0
ES Save % .888 .947
GAA 3.28 1.36

*Stats from and War on Ice

Game Notes

  • I'm going to talk about PDO for a bit, because it's much of the story behind tonight's matchup between the Canes and Rangers. For those unfamiliar (here's a primer courtesy of Section 328), PDO is a statistic compiled by adding shooting percentage and save percentage, usually measured at even strength, and used as a team (more so than individual) comparison. Assuming an average team scores as many goals as they prevent, the baseline for PDO is 100, anything over 100 indicates a performance above average, and vice versa. Variances in PDO or its underlying variables are one way to determine whether a team is over- or under-performing and whether the performance is sustainable, which is why PDO is also often referred to as 'puck luck'. A consistent PDO over time is usually indicative of quality of personnel versus a hot or cold streak.
  • The Carolina Hurricanes do not have puck luck. Their PDO was ranked dead last (97.1) at the end of the 2014-15 season, and it is currently DFL this season (95.9) and has been no higher than 26th through the first 23 games. Team shooting percentage is ranked 28th (5.3%) and save percentage is also 28th (.907). In other words, if the Canes were getting a goaltending performance good enough to steal a game or two, they couldn't bury their chances at the other end, and if they could improve their scoring, goaltending can't keep enough pucks out. Which is why despite improvements in other areas (puck possession, shots against, faceoffs, penalty minutes), there's no real improvement when it comes to the standings.
  • The Rangers PDO fortunes, on the other hand, are the exact opposite, benefitting from both high shooting percentages and exceptional goaltending which have kept them near the top of the Eastern Conference despite otherwise middling statistics. Their shooting percentage tops the league (10.2%) and is a full percentage point higher that last season's best (the Lightning at 9.1%). Likewise, their save percentage (.954) is a full percentage point higher than their nearest competitor and two percentage points higher than last season's best (Canadiens at .936). Hockey stats analysts have been predicting that the Rangers puck luck is not sustainable and they're due for a 'market correction'. And just like that, the Rangers have lost three games in a row and four out of their last five. Whether the Canes can do anything to continue that trend tonight remains to be seen. It would take quite a bit of puck luck, which has been nowhere to be found against the Rangers who have won 11 out of the last 12 meetings and haven't lost at MSG to the Canes since October 2010.
  • By the way, here's what PDO looks like as of games played through Wednesday 11/25 (so it doesn't include the Canes loss to Buffalo or two Rangers losses this past weekend). This is courtesy of Carolyn Wilke, a writer at Today's Slapshot and @Classlicity on twitter (I highly recommend the follow):

Click here for a larger picture.

  • The Rangers didn't practice yesterday, after playing three games in four days including two matinees over the holiday weekend. As previously mentioned, they lost all three. On Friday, they were leading the Bruins in Boston with four minutes remaining in the game and gave up two late goals to lose 4-3 in regulation. They also lost Derek Stepan to broken ribs. Alain Vigneault and Henrik Lundqvist had strong words for Claude Julien after he insinuated Lundqvist was diving. The Rangers then followed up that performance with a shutout loss to the Flyers at MSG on Saturday, which dropped them out of first place in the Metro division. The Rangers are not in a good mood.
  • The Canes shouldn't be in a good mood either. After a feel-good win against the Oilers at home on Thanksgiving Eve, they were upended by the Sabres in Buffalo Friday night. The team took Saturday off and practiced yesterday, though little information was forthcoming from practice. What we know: 1) for the most part, the team practiced as they lined up Friday night, 2) Kris Versteeg didn't practice but no explanation given (hopefully it was just a maintenance day), 3) there was no update on who is in goal tonight, 4) there was no post-practice audio posted by the team, 5) Andrej Nestrasil broke the glass while they were at Chelsea Piers. Elias Lindholm is riding a four-game points streak (1g, 3a). Jordan Staal is playing in his 200th game as a member of the Hurricanes [insert obligatory three Staal brothers playing tonight witty comment here].
  • This is the second meeting of the season between the Canes and Rangers and the last one at MSG. The Rangers won 3-0 on November 10th.

Projected Lineups

Hurricanes (from Friday's game)

Eric Staal - Victor Rask - Elias Lindholm
Joakim Nordstrom - Jordan Staal - Andrej Nestrasil
Jeff Skinner - Riley Nash - Kris Versteeg
Brad Malone - Jay McClement - Chris Terry

Ron Hainsey - Justin Faulk 
John-Michael Liles - Brett Pesce
Noah Hanifin - Jaccob Slavin

Cam Ward
Eddie Lack

Injuries and scratches: James Wisniewski (IR ACL), Nathan Gerbe (ankle), Michal Jordan (healthy)

Rangers (from Monday's pregame skate)

Rick Nash - Derick Brassard - Mats Zuccarello
J.T. Miller - Kevin Hayes - Viktor Stalberg
Chris Kreider - Oscar Lindberg - Jesper Fast
Dominic Moore - Jarret Stoll - Emerson Etem

Ryan McDonagh - Kevin Klein
Marc Staal - Dan Boyle
Keith Yandle - Dan Girardi

Henrik Lundqvist
Antti Raanta

Injuries and Scratches: Derek Stepan (broken rib), Dylan McIlrath (healthy)