Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Impact of McCabe Goes Beyond Numbers

Nick Laham/Getty Images
Normally I agree with George Ays of Tracking the Rangers when he says, “Numbers don’t lie, they just don’t agree with you.”  One place where I don’t agree, at least not yet, is in terms of the impact Bryan McCabe has had on the New York Rangers power play.  It has been five games and the stats say the man advantage is still struggling only converting on 3 of 20 (15%) power plays.  The numbers say that the impact has been negligible to this point.  I do not get that same feel in watching the Rangers when they have the advantage since he has been here.

The willingness to shoot the puck and hit the net has created something opponents have not had to account for all season.  He has yet to score with his bombs from the point, but it has created a number of rebound opportunities and beyond that has made other players on the ice more aggressive and that aggression has been utterly lacking for this team all season.  More players are willing to pull the trigger on their own shots, with more space to do so and some are even heading to the front of the net for a change.  All of these things are critical to getting the final reward.

Along with his shot the biggest help to the power play has been his ability to keep the puck in the zone.  For much of the year the Rangers would spend half the power play chasing the puck down to the other end of the ice and starting over because they were unable to hold the line, but McCabe has been a virtual vacuum back there sucking up clearing attempts and continuing possession for the offense.

His understanding and comfort running a power play also shows in how he walks the line at the point to create angles for both his own shot and passing lanes.  These are the types of things that a power play quarterback does and the things that McCabe should be imparting to the rest of the Rangers defense core.  The results are not there yet, but I believe that between the movement, the aggression, the puck possession and the big shot from the point those results will come in short order.

So, do the numbers lie or my eyes?