Yandle and the NYR Power Play

A pretty common complaint among Rangers Twitter earlier this season was that Keith Yandle didn't get enough power play time. 

Heck, even Yandle's old fans in Phoenix noticed.


Well it seems (to my untrustworthy eyes) that Yandle is getting more PP time, since, give or take, the trade deadline. Time On Ice data from War-On-Ice.com proves it.  The following chart shows Yandle's percentage of the NYR's total power play time, per game, and the rolling 5-game average.

As you can see, Yandle started the year getting a lot of the NYR's power play time during games 1-6, and then dropped steadily through game 26 or so, bottoming out around 40%. Yandle hovered around 50% of the NYR's power play time during the mid-season (games 30-50 or so).  Since game 50-ish, Yandle's percentage of NYR power play time has increased, and for the last 25 games, he's been regularly getting about 70% of the NYR's power play (note this doesn't include the 3/31 Carolina game).

And, Rangers Twitter seems to think its making a difference.

But I wondered - has Yandle's increased power play time led to a *better* Rangers power play?

Better is an interesting word in the world of hockey fancystats, but one way to measure it is results.  Again, the last 25 games seems a reasonable cut-off point, since that's about when Yandle's PP ice time increased. And sure enough, over the last 25 games (pre 3/31), the NYR's PP has 16 goals in 63 power plays - a 25.4% success rate. The 50 games before that, the NYR PP had 24 goals in 144 power plays - a 16.7% success rate.  Huge difference.

Maybe we should end there.  #Winz and all. But we all know that actual goals scored don't always mean the team's play has actually improved.  

So I looked at the Rangers' "per 60" shot rates - Corsi For per 60 (CF60), Fenwick For per 60 (FF60), Shots on Goal For per 60 (SF60), Scoring Chances For per 60 (SCF60), and High Danger Scoring Chances For per 60 (HSCF60) for the season, and compared it to Yandle's percentage of PP time.  

Take my word for it, all the charts look basically the same, so I'm only going to post the CF60, SCF60, and HSCF60 as examples.  I also deleted the secondary y-axis on the right side of the charts, which showed Yandle's % of PP TOI.  I did this because (1) I'm bad at charts, (2) dual axes charts are terrible, and (3) you can easily see the trend in Yandle's % of PP TOI without knowing what the specific ranges are. [You can also look at the chart on the top of the post]. 

The blue line is the NYR PP CF60 rates, on a rolling 5-game average.  As you can see, as Yandle's PP time has gone up to about 70% of the total NYR PP time, the PP CF60 rates dropped to about 90 CF60, and then rebounded to fluctuate around 100-120 CF60.  I'm not saying there's a direct negative correlation between Yandle's PP ice time and the CF60 rate, but the CF60 rates certainly didn't shoot up as Yandle's time increased, which is what I had expected.

Scoring Chances For per 60 show a similar pattern.  There was a pretty big drop off games 50-65 or so (a drop that was more pronounced than the similar drop in CF60 for whatever reason).  Then the SCF60 rebounds to around 45-48 SCF60, and has remained there consistently the last 10 games or so. Again, I had expected to see these rates go up as Yandle's time increased.

Finally, High Danger Scoring Chances For per 60 basically mirror the SCF60 rates.  The NYR PP really struggled to produce "great" chances around games 50-55, but then again rebounded over the last 10 games or so.  But, again, the HSCF60 rates are not as impressive as I expected them to be based on Yandle's increased ice time alone.

So if the NYR aren't producing more shots and chances with Yandle getting increased PP ice time, maybe the NYR are just shooting better? 

I admit this chart is terrible, but I think you can figure it out. The orange line is Yandle's percentage of NYR PP time, as we've seen in every chart above. The blue line is the NYR PP shooting percentage, again on a rolling 5-gm average.  Don't ask me why Excel didn't include the % symbol on the left side y axis. I told you I'm bad at charts. But, for example, the NYR PP shooting percentage as of game 5 was 10%, and so on.

Aside from the crazy spike around game 55, there's really nothing here of interest. I certainly don't see anything that suggests that the NYR's PP shooting percentage is linked to Yandle's increased power play time.

So what did we learn? Well, I'm bad at charts.  

I'll add the usual caveats - this is very high level. I haven't looked at the rates with Yandle on the ice compared to those with Yandle off the ice.  Using 5-game averages may also show something different than 10- and 20-game averages. And I have no idea if the NYR power play strategies in the offensive zone have also changed with Yandle's increased ice time - which may be leading to more patience and less volume of shots. Maybe now that Yandle is installed on the 1st PP unit, his time will become a "leading indicator" of the team's PP shot rates going forward.  It would be interesting to have a real time of actual possession figure in the offensive zone, but we all know that isn't tracked (or available) yet.

I also don't mean to suggest that Yandle hasn't improved the NYR power play. Based on my eyes alone, I believe he's greatly improved the NYR's PP zone entries, and especially their ability to get through the NZ. #DeathToTheNeutralZoneDropPass.  I still believe he should be playing at least 75% of the NYR power play time, if not all of it.  

But, I was expecting to see more signs that the NYR power play shot metrics had increased with the increase in Yandle's power play ice time.

Again, I'm right in my analysis.

All data is from War-On-Ice.com.

[updated on 4.2.16 to make chart's more user-friendly]