Gerard Gallant on Rangers’ offensive dip: ‘I don’t think we’re playing our best game yet’

Gerard Gallant Rangers
Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Winning covers up plenty of warts, which is exactly what’s happening with the New York Rangers as of late. 

A high-powered attack has looked mundane over their last six games with the Blueshirts averaging just 2.6 goals per outing during that stretch. In each of their last three games, they’ve been held to just two goals each — but the goaltending of Igor Shesterkin ensured that the Rangers picked up wins in two of those matchups over the Boston Bruins and Ottawa Senators. 

Those recent struggles have been exacerbated by a lack of power plays, which normally allow the Rangers to flex their attacking muscles considering they possess the third-best man-advantage unit in the entire NHL. 

But over their last three games, they’ve had just four power plays — converting on two of them — which continues to expose their deficiencies while playing 5-on-5 hockey.

According to the analytics website, Natural Stat Trick, the Rangers rank 32nd of 32 NHL teams in Corsi-for percentage (CF%) and scoring chances for percentage (SCF%), 31st in Fenwick-for percentage (FF%), 29th in shots for percentage (SF%) and expected goals-for percentage (xGF%), and 15th in goals for percentage (GF%).

Corsi is an advanced metric that accounts for shot attempt differential while at even strength play, including shots on goal, missed shots on goal, and blocked shot attempts towards the opposition’s net minus the same shot attempts directed at a team’s own net.

Fenwick measures the same thing but it does not include blocked shot attempts in its formula. 

[ALSO READ: Rangers riding hot power play despite recent lack of chances]

The lack of success in even-strength play isn’t being lost on head coach Gerard Gallant, who has had to keep his team sharp despite a pair of lengthy breaks — the first being COVID-related before the most recent All-Star break.

“Good enough to win, that’s about it,” he said when describing his team’s 5-on-5 play (h/t Mollie Walker, NY Post). “We’re getting some chances. I don’t think we’re playing our best game yet… We found ways to play good enough to win hockey games. We played good shutdown hockey, we had good goaltending. It’s nice to win those games, too. But I think we can bring more offense for sure.”

Their season-long struggles in such a prominent aspect of the game make it all the more surprising that the Rangers rank near the top of the Eastern Conference. Their 69 points heading into Thursday’s clash against the Washington Capitals at Madison Square Garden is third in the Metropolitan Division — firmly in a playoff spot four points ahead of those very same Capitals.

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