I'm more than a little surprised some of the New York Rangers local newspapers, and pundits, haven't been more critical of Coach Vigneaults body of work this season. Since the Rangers 2014 Stanley Cup finals appearance the Rangers have been on a decline. Culminating in this springs embarrassing toasting by the Pittsburgh Penguins in a five game blowout. 113 regular season points last season 101 this season, another 12 point drop off next season and the Rangers won't make the playoffs. This off season is not geared around adding players to compete for the Stanley Cup, its about adding players to make next seasons playoffs. You take away Henrik Lunqvists scintillating start to the season and the Rangers would NOT have made this seasons playoffs. Let that sink in, this season was a disaster only masked by Lundqvists early season dominance.
Compound that by delving into the overall poor team play and poor special teams play and there is certainly subject matter for debate. Five on five play was a inconsistent adventure usually preceded by seemingly nightly forward line shuffles. The top lines appeared to be more of a who you are placement, than what have you done lately reward. The compete level and battle intensity level just wasn't there most nights, as it appeared the plan was to win with as little effort as possible.
The once vaunted defence was a shell of its former self. Individually the veterans all struggled, and looked confused in their defensive zone responsibilities. Some more so than others, yet quality minutes were handed to some who were struggling enough to make most observers wonder why they were even in the lineup. Instead of being recognized as having a physical style that could impact games in a way no other defenseman could, Dylan McIlrath sat far to often. McIlrath and late season call up Brady Skjei both showed potential and promise, the lone bright spots in the underachieving defensive group.
The special teams starting with the leagues 14th overall power play were not good. Injuries finally opened a spot for the Rangers best power play weapon Keith Yandle, to show just how wrong it was to have him watching the starting PP unit for the first 1/2 of the season. The best start to a successful power play is to have your best players on it.
The penalty killing was worse, finishing 26 overall in the league while allowing a horrendous 53 goals against. The weak penalty killing meant the Rangers started 65% of their games last season down a penalty kill goal against.
Running around in their own zone, poor team play, multiple defensemen and forwards not playing up to their potential, and poor special team play, are all issues that reflect the quality of coaching a team is receiving.
When I read this on another website
"Alain Vigneault said that the Rangers need to improve their puck movement and puck management from their defense.
He added that puck movement is something that he "really thought" dropped this year and he isn't quite sure why.
I thought maybe the Rangers need a coach who has the answer.