The New York Rangers’ head coach Alain Vigneault has received a lot of flack this season for his playing and benching of players. Has he finally learned?
The New York Rangers enjoyed a fantastic win on Wednesday night against their long-time rival, the Philadelphia Flyers. They also had an impressive comeback win against the Columbus Blue Jackets last night in Ohio.
Both victories came after a horrid game against the Buffalo Sabers at the Garden on Tuesday night. There was nothing going right for the team and they seemed out of sorts.
It seemed that loss, to the team sitting in the bottom of the league, was a wake-up call to the Rangers head coach, Alain Vigneault
It’s no surprise that defense has killed the Rangers all season long. There are fingers that can be pointed to certain players more than others, but the story remains the same: the defense needs help.
The game against the Flyers and Blue Jackets featured a whole new set of defensive pairings for the Rangers. It’s a safe bet to say that fans saw this as a long awaited issue that was bound to change.
So new NYR dpairs: 27-76; 4-8, 22-5, lines same, Lundqvist in net, per AV
— Steve Zipay (@stevezipay) January 4, 2017
And what do you know, the Rangers played a fantastic game both offensively and in their own zone in Philly.
Against Columbus, the look was a different story, where they came out very flat in the first few minutes. By the third period, though, they had found their legs.
The shuffling of the D-pairs shows that AV notices there os problem. Why it took this long to see is a question that still remains.
Ryan McDonagh looked very good paired with Brady Skjei, and the other pairings looked solid as well. On the same trend, Dan Girardi should benefit from the third pairing ice time he got as his legs won’t feel like baggage.
Note this, though: The key to keeping Girardi fresh was to not give him big minutes so he could save his energy. A few games he had less time on ice and it worked for a little bit. Also, he was not supposed to play in back-to-back games, but this may have been avoided due to Marc Staal being hurt.
Then AV went back to his old ways and started to give him top four minutes, and then the team started to suffer again.
Around this time of the season, a lot of teams start to look and shop around for a defenseman. Should the Rangers be in the hunt as well?
The answer is yes, as should every team who wants to be a serious competitor down the stretch and into the playoffs. The question really should be who the Rangers go after.
Kevin Shattenkirk is still an option that many Rangers fans want to see happen, but money constraints as well as exactly who to trade is bounding them. All of the NMCs and NTCs in players contracts are digging the Rangers a deep hole. If Gorton figures a way out, I would be impressed.
The clock is ticking, though. If Marc Staal comes back and plays lower minutes, possibly with Girardi, then things may or may not work out. Vigneault should let these pairings rock for a little bit and see what happens.
If something isn’t working, get it fixed. If something isn’t broken, don’t fix it. This is such a simple thing to keep in mind, but perhaps because it is the NHL, nothing is simple.