The Vigneault era begins … good coach still has to prove himself

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A few things about practice today. Ryan Callahan said status quo, that he feels good, etc. The Rangers still say he won’t play in Game 1. Carl Hagelin will officially begin the season on Long Term Injured Reserve.

So I expect the lineup for Game 1 at Phoenix will have Callahan, Arron Asham and Justin Falk as scratches.

Also, Henrik Lundqvist discussed his contract in vague terms, and after the cameras stopped rolling he said after this he will not talk about it anymore.

The uniform numbers for the new guys are 10-J.T. Miller, 12-Jesper Fast, 28-Dominic Moore, 44-Justin Falk.

I still don’t have a volunteer to select the Three Rangers Stars for Game 1 … or Games 2 through 82. If you want to help out, drop me a note at rcarpini@lohud.com. Thanks

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Here’s the unedited version of a column I wrote about Alain Vigneault:

By Rick Carpiniello

GREENBURGH – Alain Vigneault is a very good and proven coach with an impressive track record, a coach who won six division titles and two Presidents’ Trophies in seven years in Vancouver. That needs to be said first.

He’s also a good guy, a solid person, and very much unlike the barking, snarling guy who preceded him. That needs to be added.

Now, whether Vigneault can take over a Rangers team that’s not in the same class skill-wise as those Canucks, and get it to play a more offensive style and – well, obviously – win a lot of games, that remains to be seen.

The Vigneault era begins Thursday night against Phoenix in Glendale, Ariz., and the coach said he’s ready. He also said he’s nervous. The Rangers start with a nine-game road trip, thanks to the Garden’s renovation, and Vigneault still has much to learn about his team collectively and individually.

“If we come home with a good record, we’re looking pretty good,” Rangers captain Ryan Callahan said Wednesday.

That would surely help usher in Vigneault’s reign, especially after a 1-5 preseason in which the Rangers scored nine goals. That’s the thing. The Rangers, whatever style they play, still don’t have a lot of top-line skill up front.

John Tortorella was the perfect guy for this team at that particular time, and he devised the perfect way for that particular group of players and its offensive deficiencies, to succeed. They outkicked their coverage two seasons ago. They fell woefully short last season.

And Tortorella wore thin.

Enter Vigneault here, Tortorella in Vancouver.

Can the man they call “AV” win without stressing defense first with this group? Will his puck-possession scheme fit the roster?

And what about his defensemen, who sold out to block just about every shot the last several seasons? Are they as good if they don’t? Is it possible they will be better if they don’t? What kind of stress might that put on the goalies?

“You’ve still got to go out and make the same reads, make the plays,” said Ryan McDonagh. “You take risks when they’re there, but obviously you’ve got to make smart plays. The structure is a little bit different, the pace we want to play is probably the same.”

The Rangers went from Best and Beast in the East, with toughness and growl, and when the game’s got nasty, the Rangers got better, in 2011-12, to a soft team in 2013. Their bottom six was much worse. Their top six was woefully disappointing. That top six hasn’t changed a lot, Derick Brassard moving in for Marian Gaborik.

Whether you like that trade or not, Gaborik’s potential for 40 goals has not been replaced. Maybe the up-tempo style will help Brassard bust out. Or guys like Mats Zuccarello and Carl Hagelin – good players who have not yet put up top-six stats in the league.

But things are changed and new.

“It’s a different approach, a different atmosphere,” Callahan said. “Obviously there’s a different feeling in the room and within the team. No matter who came in, it’s going to feel different. But the guys are excited about the approach and excited about this team and anxious to get going.”

The Rangers got a good coach, they surely did. Soon we will see if they got the right one.

Twitter: @RangersReport

Photos by Getty Images.

 

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60 Comments

  1. It sure was fun watching the Boys play 2 years ago….. there was a lot of fun hockey.

    Last years expectation with Nash was he was to fix/help the power play, and scoring would come easy and naturally. Who knew Richards would come in dazed and confused, and Gaborik would have an “off” year.

    I thought Torts was the perfect “New York” coach, very much If you can make it here you can make it anywhere, and the toughness was surely needed after Renny’s analytical mind meld of Defense first.

    AV success will rely on if he can “coach” the power play to score. So many games are won and lost on the special teams success.

    One thing you can notice from the final four teams last year. They were all Stanley Cup champions the last 4 years, and there teams were flat out TOUGH to play against. And the puck movement had a different style of “flow” to it. Hopefully AV can bring this style to the Rangers. There’s a time to dump and chase, just not every time.

  2. I won’t be there, bull dog … with all this Rangers stuff this week, I managed a Saturday off!

    doing Poughkeepsie-Nyack Friday though.

  3. Coaches and players come and go.

    It’s the fans who are the constant.

    And unfortunately, in this organization, the owner and President / GM as well.

  4. It’s really nice to have a REAL discussion. So thank you, The Doctor and all others. Especially those who disagree.

    I understand what you’re saying The Doctor. And I don’t disagree. I just think the way of the world has been to watch people battle (sometimes to the death) for the pleasure of others. The owners are the kings getting pleasure out of the domination and subjugation of people they own and we are all the peons paying for wolf nipple chips and a few more dinars for nosebleed seats at the coliseum. At least they don’t let Lions on the ice in Hockey.

  5. I am not holding high expectations this year…unless we are talking about Vancouver who will compete for if not win the Cup this season.

  6. bull dog line on

    updates Carp,
    thats way to complicated for me. I will be watching my son play, and being bored to death by TZ’s offense.

  7. How are the flyers able to carry Pronger on LTIR for the third year?
    They are clearly dancing around the cap, no?

  8. Stupid MLB one game playoff (stupid idea in Baseball) has ruined Seinfeld being on TBS tonight. NO SEINFELD

  9. Still putting up 105 & 92 points in a 72 game season, and you don’t make the top 12 forwards. Yikes.

    Is Hartford that deep? With Kristo, Kreider, Lindberg, Powe?

  10. _Flyers have the highest Defensive payroll in the NHL? Is that true!?_

    Its by a margin, right? I think they have 6 defensemen making over $3MM.

    Also … POUGHKEEPSIE!

  11. Timonen, Kimmo » $6,000,000
    UFA
    Streit, Mark » 35+ $5,250,000 $5,250,000 $5,250,000 $5,250,000
    UFA
    Pronger, Chris » 35+ $4,941,429 $4,941,429 $4,941,429 $4,941,429
    UFA
    Coburn, Braydon » $4,500,000 $4,500,000 $4,500,000
    UFA
    Meszaros, Andrej » $4,000,000
    UFA
    Schenn, Luke » $3,600,000 $3,600,000 $3,600,000
    UFA
    Grossmann, N. » $3,500,000 $3,500,000 $3,500,000
    UFA
    Gustafsson, Erik » $1,000,000
    RFA
    Gill, Hal » $700,000
    UFA
    Bourdon, M. » $612,500
    RFA

  12. Pronger is not going to play again it would seem, sadly. How are they able to avoid taking that cap hit?

    Bettman loves the Flyers.

  13. For everyone wondering the Phlyers vs. Maple Leafs game will be on the FIRST channel of the NHL Center Ice Package. For those wondering, it’s in a free preview still and for the next few days at least.

  14. I guess the thing with Pronger is, if he’s done for his career, he might be able to stay on LTIR and Philly would be off the hook for his cap hit, and the same would work for Rocket Richards. The thing with Richards is, if he gets hurt this year and it isn’t career-ending, the Rangers can’t buy him out.

    Right, CBA-heads?

  15. Eddie Eddie Eddie on

    Despite all my rage, I’m still just a rat in the cage.

    Rangers – King’s cup final

    Rangers in 7.

  16. tell me I’m the only one
    tell me there’s no other one
    jesus was an only son yeah
    tell me I’m the chosen one
    jesus was an only son for you

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