Although the weather outside doesn't necessarily make us think of winter pursuits, it's a good time to take the temperature of every NHL team. Hockey Prospectus will guide us through the league-wide tour, spotlighting one player trending up and one player trending down for each club, as well as a key statistic as we look ahead to the 2014-15 season. References will be made to goals versus threshold (GVT), a Hockey Prospectus proprietary statistic; for more on GVT, click here. All other advanced stats are courtesy of Stats.HockeyAnalysis.com.
While they may have looked average in the standings, the New York Rangers' advanced stats hinted that their run to the Stanley Cup finals was not as surprising as it seemed. They were a terrific possession team, ranking third in the Eastern Conference in shot attempt differential in close situations (tied or within one goal), at 53.2 percent.
The Blueshirts also had the fourth best even-strength save percentage (.931) in the NHL, led by star goalie Henrik Lundqvist. Still, things had to bounce their way in order to advance to the Cup finals, including Sidney Crosby scoring merely one goal on 19 shots in the second round.
The Rangers made some changes to the roster this offseason, most notably losing Anton Stralman, Brad Richards, Benoit Pouliot and Brian Boyle, and adding Dan Boyle, Lee Stempniak and Tanner Glass. However, the roster still features a mix of proven NHL stars and a few quality young players like Chris Kreider and Carl Hagelin, who now have the experience of that long playoff run. While they still have one of the stronger clubs in the East, they will need a lot of help to get over teams like Boston, Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay.