By Jay Travers
As the New York Rangers head into tomorrow night’s match up against Ottawa head coach Alain Vigneault moved players around today at practice.
This does not come as a shock considering the recent loosing streak the team is on. Honestly, the Blueshirts have looked pretty bad on the ice.
The whole line-changing idea has worked before for Vigneault and his Rangers. Going back a few weeks AV made the switch on defense, sending struggling defenseman Dan Girardi to the second D-pairing.
But the combination at practice today seemed, different, to say the least.
Considering that the number one scoring line of Nash-Brassard-Zuccarello was doing okay, it seems odd to separate them.
#NYR here at practice appear to have strange new lines: Hayes-Brass-Zucc, Kreider-Lindberg-Nash, Miller-Moore-Fast, Glass-Stoll-Stalberg
— Pat Leonard (@PLeonardNYDN) December 5, 2015
What is interesting is how Rick Nash was dropped down and Kevin Hayes was moved up. Hayes’ play has been mediocre as of late, and as he leisurely skates to the bench every line change he does not deserve the position change.
Then again, Nash has not been scoring either. However, it is at this point when Nash is not scoring where he plays hard defense to compensate. Too bad the Rangers are paying him for goals not defense.
Aside from the taboo line combinations, what is more interesting is what the head coach said after practice.
“I think Hayes-ee [Hayes] is, like we’ve said many times, I think I said it at the beginning of the year about Kreids [Kreider], that I think this is his year to (break) out,” Vigneault told Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News. “Maybe by doing that sometimes I put too much pressure on the player. Maybe I’m partly responsible.”
If that does not scream an excellent coach, I am not sure what does. Clearly the New York Rangers have not been playing as well as they have, and the coach is upfront about it.
This is the reason why AV has an impressive winning record of 115-60-16 as head coach with the Blueshirts.
While Vigneault is taking (some) responsibility for his play, Hayes is doing the same.
“I’m not snake-bitten. I’m just not making plays I normally have,” Hayes told Leonard.
His lack-luster approach to his game is finally being realized. It will be interesting how he plays tomorrow night, perhaps this is the reason why AV moved him up?
You know this is all the motion of the ocean at this point, all teams have their moments. Worst case scenario, the Rangers change how they play and become a little more conservative. Get the offense from taking the heat off Lundqvist and playing solid D. The key is just how will the Rangers recover from this rough patch. That is the question that everyone wants the answer to, but will not be solved until tomorrow night.
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