— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) February 2, 2018
New York Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault met with reporters following Friday’s practice to discuss some things, including yet another big injury.
When asked if the injury was making the team feel “victimized” or down on itself, Vigneault replied: “To the contrary, this is a great opportunity. I’m thinking right away about a guy like Jimmy [Vesey]. All year long he is begging for more ice time and now he is getting an opportunity to play with Mika and Nasher.” He was referring to the line of Vesey-Mika Zibanejad-Rick Nash, which was put together in practice earlier today.
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While Vesey is getting an opportunity, Vigneault added that he must make the most of it. “He’s gotta elevate his game, our team has to elevate our game. You say that in playoff hockey, players have to elevate their game, teams have to elevate their game, I say that trying to get into the playoffs it has to be the same thing.”
Vigneault also touched on his number one goaltender, Henrik Lundqvist and the defense in front of him. “If am Hank, I want to get back in net and be the guy that makes the difference. If I am a defenseman or forward or a D getting more ice time because of injuries, that all teams go through, I want to be a difference maker, be out there and that is what I expect from the guys who are getting that opportunity.”
As down as the team seemed after last night’s 4-0 loss to Toronto, Vigneault seemed determined to get the Rangers out of this funk with the team he has right now. He spoke about how players feel heading into the game against Nashville on Saturday night.
“I think that at the end of the game, every game is a new game and a new opportunity for players and the team to play a good game. There is no doubt that I definitely believe there is another level to get here with this group. Tomorrow we are playing against Stanley Cup finalists, a team that finished 16th to get into the playoffs and they made it to the Stanley Cup Final. We need to find another level, upgrade our game and we are getting a great opportunity to play against a real good team.”
For now, Vigneault added, there will be no call-ups from Hartford. The team will continue to go with 12 forwards and seven defensemen.
With two months of hockey left and only one point out of a playoff spot, Vigneault is spot on with his analysis as the Rangers face two tough games on the road in Nashville then Chicago.
They may be down, but far from out of it.