First-year head coach David Quinn and his New York Rangers may not be heading to the playoffs, but that won’t stop this coach from getting the message across.
When training camp began for the New York Rangers some six months ago, the word said most frequently by the head coach was effort. David Quinn wanted his team to play at a high level regardless of the competition or the score of a game.
Fast forward to Thursday night’s game against the Detroit Red Wings, a battle of two rebuilding and struggling hockey clubs. Two Original Six teams who will finish their hockey season at the beginning of April when the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs begin.
The game started with a message to defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk. He has had a tough time on the ice over the past 10 games. Shatty has only scored two goals this season and his frustrations have shown, especially on the power play where he has only one assist in the past ten games.
His five-on-five play has suffered, a residual effect of his poor man advantage statistics. Shattenkirk was a healthy scratch on Thursday as Quinn believed it was the right time to sit the struggling 30-year-old.
The message to the team didn’t stop there. Sometimes you have to get your message out on the fly, which is what Quinn did as the third period was about to begin.
The game had begun with the Rangers new first line intact. Mika Zibanejad was centering Chris Kreider and Jimmy Vesey. The Rangers found themselves down one goal, 2-1, entering the third period. As the team came out of the locker room, Zibanejad found out he would be centering two different wingers.
Replacing Kreider and Vesey were Boo Nieves and Filip Chytil. Kreider would only play three shifts in the third period for a total of 2:13 of ice time. Vesey collected five shifts in the third for a total ice time of 3:50.
The Rangers were in the middle of a five-game losing streak as they took the ice for the third period, down by one goal and Quinn sparingly played the two forwards against a struggling Red Wings team.
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Quinn told Greg Joyce of the New York Post,
“I thought other guys were playing better [than Kreider], so they’re going to get the ice time,” coach David Quinn said. “I thought both those guys [Nieves and Chytil] had legs. I thought they were going to put in an effort and I thought they did that. That line had some chances and spent time in the offensive zone.”
Message sent! Skate hard with effort and stay focused or find yourself on the bench or in the stands. This message is not a new concept, it has been a motto of this team since Quinn was hired last May.
There are 15 games that remain on the Rangers schedule. Fifteen games the players will need to continue to play hard with effort as the head coach looks to find ways to end this six-game losing streak and to start pointing the team in the right direction to make a playoff run next season.
Messages are always sent by coaches to players. This case is a little different, as Quinn has basically two teams in one. The veterans and the kids. That really doesn’t matter as the coach has communicated his concerns and has scratched anyone he thinks can play better and needs a little extra motivation to put in the hard work to improve.
Quinn may be a first-year NHL coach, but he is an experienced coach all the same. He is very good at telling players what he wants and pushing the right buttons to get the job done.
David Quinn should be in the conversation for the Jack Adams award for coach of the year.