The Stanley Cup Final offers fascinating story lines and opportunities to analyze the teams and the NHL in 2014. With each game during the series, Hockey Prospectus will look at what the statistics say about the direction of the series, the league and who will raise the Cup.
Game 1 – Kings 3 Rangers 2
1) 43 of 64, 27 of 63
Here is the thing about Corsi: It only tells us that teams are attempting shots – it does not tell us the value of the shot attempt. Common sense tells us that a shot on goal has a chance to go in the net, so it is naturally more valuable than a shot miss or blocked shot. Out of 64 shot attempts taken by the Kings, 43 landed on goal. In contrast, only 27 of 63 attempts ended up hitting either Jonathan Quick or the back of the net. The point being that if you only looked at a shot attempt chart, you might say the game was pretty even, but the Kings were doing more with the puck than their counterparts.
Kings’ center Anze Kopitar was on the ice for nine shots for and zero shots against. Z E R O. He played the most of any forward at 5v5 and his most oft faced forward were Derek Stepan, Chris Kreider and Rick Nash. Most faced defenseman were Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh. Kopitar was made for the world of more detailed statistics.
3) +1.3% vs. -5.1%
The Kings have indicated they will bring Robyn Regehr back in the lineup for Game 2. As he returns from injury, naturally, someone will have to sit out. That likely someone is Matt Greene. While Greene is far from fantastic, his Relative Corsi during the regular season – albeit only 38 games – was +1.3%. He was a hint above average playing fairly sheltered minutes. Regehr played pretty difficult minutes, with a Relative Zone Start % of -4.7 – the lowest of anyone on the team. However, the veteran defenseman did more puck chasing than puck driving during those touch minutes, which brings about the question: Would it be better to just leave Greene? You might flip a coin or say Regehr is the smarter, more experienced player, but the numbers at least make you raise an eyebrow. If they take out Jake Muzzin or Alec Martinez instead, throw a chair, because that would be ridiculous.
Carl Hagelin continues to be in the conversation for second best Rangers player during the post-season (next to Lundqvist, duh). The winger had five shots on goal, a goal and the best Relative Corsi on the team. Hagelin’s speed and aggressiveness has proven difficult for every opponent and it appears it will be no different against the Kings – who still feature some lumbering defenseman that Hagelin can take advantage of.
5) .930 vs. 926
There is no question about it: Henrik Lundqvist is the best goalie in the world. But Jonathan Quick has the capability to elevate his game to an elite level and has done so in the last two playoffs. This year, Quick has been merely average, but he was strong in Game 1, posting a .926 save percentage. While King Henrik came away with the better save percentage, it will take more than .004 difference for the Rangers to beat the former Conn Smythe winner.