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 email@example.com. Thanks
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.
Photos by Getty Images.