New York Rangers head coach David Quinn now has a year of coaching under his belt. What should we expect in his second year?
New York Rangers head coach David Quinn deserves either an A- or B+ for last year. The Rangers were not contenders last year, but he got the most he could have out of a team that was expected to go nowhere.
In the end, the hockey gods rewarded the Rangers anyway with the number two overall pick, the big fish in free agency and a lot more youth heading into next year.
Now, the reason why that grade is not an A+ is that while Quinn was good, he was not perfect. It wasn’t necessarily his fault; he was a first-year NHL coach. Now, Quinn is heading into year two and should have a better idea of how to press the buttons behind the bench.
Here are three things David Quinn should improve on this coming season:
Easy on Lundqvist's workload
Last season, Henrik Lundqvist got off to a great start. He put up phenomenal numbers and Quinn just kept rolling with him. He even earned himself a spot at the NHL All-Star Game where he won the NHL Save Streak at the NHL Skills Competition. It’s was easy to see why Quinn kept playing Hank, but it was a rookie mistake on his part.
As the season went on, Lundqvist was gassed. His workload at the beginning of the season ended up taking a toll on him late in the year. Far too often, Lundqvist ended up giving up three or more goals a game as he was being peppered with 30-plus shots.
It’s one thing if he was well-rested, but Lundqvist’s best days are behind him and he can’t bail the team out on a night-in night-out like he once did.
This ultimately forced Quinn to give backup goalie, Alexandar Georgiev, a bigger workload towards the end of the year. We’ll call this what it is, a rookie mistake by a first-year coach. Quinn should be more cautious with Lundqvist’s workload.
Mix up the front lines
Look at the Rangers first line. One of the positions is still up in the air, but it is one that will be a headache for defenses to cover with Mika Zibanejad and Artemi Panarin in the mix. Not only that, but they now have a future star in Kaapo Kakko.
It’s safe to say that Panarin and Zibanejad are set for career years together on the same line. However, the rest of the team is still up in the air. It might be tempting to keep Panarin and Zibanejad on the same line together always, but if the rest of the team needs a boost, don’t be afraid to shake it up a little.
It’s not a bad thing to every once in awhile separate the two so that their productiveness can rub off on some of the other players. Not only that but if Kakko is explosive out of the gate, don’t be afraid to possibly even put him on the first line. That is, of course, if he is putting up great numbers from the very beginning, which brings us to the last item.
Let the kids play, but don't rush them
Not only is Kakko on his way, but so is Vitali Kravtsov and Adam Fox. There is a lot of hype around these rookies that were added, which another reason why the Rangers are considered one of the winners of this offseason.
It’s exciting to see all this young talent around the Blueshirts. However, that’s what they are, young. They are not going to enter their primes overnight. They will be great for this organization for years to come, but not yet. Quinn deploys a bit of a habit of giving the kids fewer minutes. He can loosen that grip a little bit with them, but not too much.
As mentioned above, if Kakko or any one of these guys is storming out of the gate like a bat out of hell, they deserve more playing time. However, they’re still kids. If they’re still just putting up rookie numbers, don’t just throw them on the top line hoping they’ll produce.
Push them to be their best, but be patient at the same time.
Just like a lot of his young players last year, David Quinn had to go through some growing pains. Still, he got the most he could out of a team that struggled in many areas.
If he can do that with a basement-dwelling team, imagine what he can do with the new talent.