If any conclusions can be drawn from the apparent goaltending ‘drama’ that has been going on in New York it is that Alain Vigneault is still getting to know his team and he’s still learning which buttons to press with which players. Henrik Lundqvist is usually harder on himself than anyone else could be; such is his will to win. He won’t have been happy backing up Cam Talbot for Monday’s depressing defeat against the Jets but if the result is a hot streak from Lundqvist who are we to second guess the decision?
While some prefer to focus on a controversy, Cam Talbot is someone that has clearly grown with every start and you can see his confidence grow with every save – despite the defeat last night. It appears that Vigneault may be flirting with a goalie controversy but is it just a coach still familiarising himself with the assets at his disposal? Could it even be a message to the rest of the team rather than the star goaltender?
For those paying attention, Vigneault has prodded countless players over the past few weeks and months and given the middling results so far this season that is exactly what he should be doing. The Michael Del Zotto situation has been one where the coach has been unafraid to publicly challenge a player to be better. Vigneault has publicly expressed his opinion on Benoit Pouliot while players such as Mats Zuccarello, Carl Hagelin and John Moore have been asked for more from the coach publicly. With the inconsistent and at times disappointing performances from numerous players on the roster this season it stands to reason that the coach will look to coach and prod his players for better performances.
In seasons previous, fans and media alike have bemoaned the feisty approach and perhaps almost haphazard style John Tortorella had with his players publicly (see the Hagelin based remarks late last season). What we are now seeing is a coach that is open but still challenging, but one that is still trying to push the same buttons that Tortorella pushed just in different ways.
Sometimes the message may be the same but a new coach needs to convey his message in a different way, his own way. It appeared that Tortorella’s act may have worn thin in his final weeks and months as Rangers Head Coach. Rather than entertain a goaltending controversy maybe we should point to a coach finding a way to get the best out of his star goaltender while trying to develop his rookie netminder at the same time. One may be a $7m goaltender and one may not, but they’re both assets.
Whether it’s the goaltenders, the defense or the forwards; all you are seeing right now is a coach finding a way to get the most out of his players. Something that is clearly not easy to achieve based on the season to date. Not exactly radical. Definitely not controversial.