Alain Vigneault‘s 2016-17 opening night New York Rangers lineup is one of the softest hockey lineups you’ll ever lay eyes on.
Where’s the beef?
With the opening night game just hours away, the lineups for the New York Rangers and Islanders are out:
The lineups for this opening night game at Madison Square Garden …#NYR #Isles pic.twitter.com/7EckYx8iTM
— Elite Sports NY (@EliteSportsNY) October 13, 2016
The first and immediate thing that jumps out from the Rangers point of view is how soft the lineup is from top to bottom.
New, fresh faces such as Pavel Buchnevich, Jimmy Vesey, and the man whose meteoric rise in the preseason cannot be matched, Brandon Pirri, has forced all of the toughness out of the lineup.
Tanner Glass, the man who fans simply cannot stand, was the one tough bruiser in the lineup who’d drop the gloves for a teammate at a moment’s notice, is now gone. Dylan McIlrath, the other man who’d back a teammate with fisticuffs, is a healthy scratch for tonight and has even seen movement rumors as of late.
Radko Gudas, at it again. This time, he targets the golden boy, Jimmy Vesey. McIlrath was hot. #NYR pic.twitter.com/HEWdyesIlh
— Elite Sports NY (@EliteSportsNY) October 3, 2016
Literally, the only two players in the lineup who can drop the gloves are Chris Kreider and J.T. Miller. Although, it’s doubtful Jeff Gorton or anybody in the Rangers organization wants to see those two fight. Kevin Klein provides something by way of grit, but his injury history makes any onlooker uneasy when thinking about him as the Rangers quasi-enforcer.
Take a look at the fourth line: Brandon Pirri, Jesper Fast, and Michael Grabner. While Fast and Grabner play the part, Pirri has no business playing as a fourth-line center.
It’s almost as if Gorton and Vigneault pretend toughness and grit don’t hold any water in today’s league. Granted, it’s a new age and skill, agility and speed have ruled the roost, but no team this soft has ever walked into the Stanley Cup Playoffs and found success.
Teams around the league are going to zero in on these New York Rangers and look to bully them around — and it starts tonight against the Isles at Madison Square Garden.
The Blueshirts — if this soft lineup sticks for awhile — better be near the top five in scoring if they want to see tremendous success in 2016-17.