Apr
15

Alain Vigneault has a job because of Henrik Lundqvist

April 15, 2016, by
Has Lundqvist saved AV his job?

Has Lundqvist saved AV his job?

I’m not a pessimist, in fact I am usually quite the (complete) opposite but here’s a grim statement for all you Rangers fans out there: barring a remarkable turnaround in performance, momentum and decision making the Rangers will be enjoying the offseason in about ten days time.

Here’s another pretty bold statement for you: this season Henrik Lundqvist has saved Alain Vigneault his job. At first glance Lundqvist’s numbers are not their usual Vezina standard until you dig a bit deeper and see what incredible numbers he’s actually put up against the quality of shots he’s facing. Lundqvist has never had it harder and yet has never been more important to the Rangers success.

There have been a ton of articles on the internet recently advocating the brilliance of Lundqvist against the backdrop of the anything-but brilliance in front of him. The Rangers record is solid, the numbers respectable and it’s primarily thanks to Lundqvist. Yet, here we are in playoff week one and Alain Vigneault has been loyal to the players (read: problems) who have been the root of the Rangers’ issues that have undermined them all season long.

The penalty ‘kill’, the horrendous regression of AV’s defensive unit led by Dan Girardi and Marc Staal, the ‘deployment’ of Keith Yandle, the scratching of player X or player Y instead of Tanner Glass etc… In short, there have been a ton of issues with the Rangers this season and quite frankly most have been coaching decisions, even if the roster is indeed flawed and needs urgent remedying.

Let’s pause for a moment – while the Rangers sole world class, truly elite player is injured causing widespread angst among the fanbase – and think where this team would be without him, without Henrik Lundqvist. This team may very well not be in the playoffs. They may very well be flirting with a top ten draft pick. Oh, they haven’t got a first round pick you say? I digress…

For all the talk of Claude Julien’s job security in recent weeks it is perhaps Alain Vigneault who could, should(?) be looking over his shoulder given the almighty, yet steady and plain to see regression the Rangers have made this year as well as the never-been-greater reliance on one player, Henrik Lundqvist.

Let’s assume for a moment that the Rangers get swept by the Pens. Not nice to think about but a very realistic proposition. Should Vigneault have job security? Should he have a stay of execution? Probably. His first two years at the Rangers helm were of such legitimate success he deserves a chance to write the obvious wrongs but if his stubbornness gets the better of him and he continues to refuse to make change maybe he will be looking for a new job. There is, after all, only so much even Henrik Lundqvist can do.

Jeff Gorton is also facing a significant summer. His first year will be over. Pressure will be mounting on Gorton and the Rangers roster requires major surgery if the team is to stay(?) in contention but he has few resources at his disposal. The focus will be off the ice and squarely on the Rangers general manager to get rid of the warts that exist. Gorton’s first year hasn’t been exactly stellar; for example how good (or bad) is the Eric Staal rental looking one month on? Could Gorton look to take a change of direction with the coaching staff? It could happen.

There’s likely a lot of scrutiny heading the Rangers way this summer. If Alain Vigneault avoids the fallout that will surely come after what looks set to be a quick first round loss he’ll have one man to thank and one man only: Henrik Lundqvist.

"Alain Vigneault has a job because of Henrik Lundqvist", 4 out of 5 based on 19 ratings.

38 comments

  1. Mythdoc says:

    Allow me to be the first to call this idea ridiculously overstated. My goodness, how does social media get so overstimulated?

    • Mythdoc says:

      You know what, I’ll answer my own question. Social media exists to earn a profit from page views generated by feeding red meat to a pre-selected group of passionate fans. If they are irrational, so much the better. More page views!

      Hank’s huge salary (which he is worth in my opinion) is one of the reasons why the Rangers do not have the money for a player like Hagelin. That’s the salary cap.

      I could go on, but what’s the point? Because you all know that AV is not going to be fired no matter what happens this playoffs. That would be irrational, no matter how much you “know in your gut” he should be.

      • Mister D says:

        If you concede Henrik’s salary is worth it, he’s not the guy you pin losing Hagelin on. There’s like $20MM tied up in about $5MM worth of performance, and its all coming from one of those four.

      • Chris says:

        No one is saying he should be fired but he’s had a bad year as HC. Fact. Take away Hank from this year, this team would be in tatters, his decisions would be more exposed and he’d be under pressure.

        For the record I’m an AV fan but he’s not delivering this year. Nor is his team, which is his responsibility.

        • Mister D says:

          I think he’s a very (very) good coach and a very bad rationer of minutes. And, with this roster, that might be a net negative overall.

        • Spozo says:

          Chris name a year in Hanks career that the team wouldn’t be in tatters if he was not on the team. Isn’t there a reason he’s the highest paid goalie in the league and player in the league? What exactly is your point?

          • Rangers Fan in Boston says:

            In tatters isn’t the right word. In a less favorable situation is more appropriate.

            I think Chris’ point is that this season moreso than the previous two, AV has let the disintegration of the blue line linger more than it probably should. The decline of certain formerly prominent players wasn’t met with the corresponding adjusted minutes/deployment that would otherwise be warranted.

            Henrik has covered these ails, moreso than in previous years as the quality of shots he’s faced this year have only increased.

            I don’t necessarily agree with the premise that AV’s job should be in jeopardy, but questioning his decision-making is certainly warranted, and we do need to see some sort of adjustments going forward.

            • Hatrick Swayze says:

              The ever calming presence up in Beantown shines through again! Very well stated. Agree in full.

    • Rhodork says:

      Please elaborate on your statement.

  2. amy says:

    this is a good move by Alain Dylan is a good physical presence and he should be playing now he will

  3. Spozo says:

    Let’s fire the guy. I can’t wait until they hire “the next guy who will be hated within 6 months”.

  4. Bayman says:

    The King is great, but his backups have had similar win %’s the last three years. In his first year, AV took the Blueshirts to the finals for the first time in 20 years. Last year, despite half of his defensemen playing severely injured, he took the Blueshirts to Game 7 of the conference finals. Methinks AV has earned some slack.

    • Bayman says:

      Wow…stating simple, indisputable facts gets 8 (and counting) negative votes. What would the response be like if I made things up?

  5. Josh says:

    Your complaints are with Girardi, Staal and Glass… That’s not a coaching issue. Your one complaint is the pk… Which is a result of the for mentioned players playing “dumb” hockey. That said, we don’t have better replacements that can step into an NHL playoff game and be better.

    • Mister D says:

      Its *absolutely* a coaching issue when Girardi is playing top pair, Staal is playing over Yandle and Glass is playing. Absolutely, 100% a coaching issue.

    • Jerry says:

      Josh,

      With all due respect, who dresses is exactly a coaching issue.

  6. Perry says:

    Let’s assume for a moment that the Rangers get swept by the Pens. Not nice to think about but a very realistic proposition. And you’re the opposite of pessimist?
    Wow – One game people!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. sherrane says:

    Are you practicing for a gig at The Onion? How could anyone in their right mind believe that Lunqvist is the reason Vigneault has a job when he missed a huge chunk of last season when the Rangers won the President’s trophy? Just based on this year’s results? So you’ll fire a guy who in his two previous seasons led the team to the Eastern Conference Finals with a Stanley Cup appearance? Stop doing crack.

  8. James says:

    This is a classic example of saying something outrageous just to illicit fan response… it’s “shock jock” radio blog style.

    • Rangers Rock says:

      I like it!

    • "The Original Rob" says:

      Exactly!

      Let’s see what all the “AV Haters” have to say when were up 3-1 in the series.

      This is CRAZY! Instead of talking about real, concrete, rational Hockey talk, ALL I read is “AV this, AV that”, “Glass this, Glass that”

      I swear, I feel like there’s some on here that either aren’t real Ranger fans or, they’re not too knowledgeable on Hockey so it’s easy to just say…”It’s the coaches fault”.. I hope I’m wrong!

      No offense Chris as I’m a big fan of your articles but you’re adding fuel to the fire here with this article lol.

      • Rangers Rock says:

        Hey, The Original Rob, we feel the same about you and AV fans. We are on the same side just on the opposite of the same side. We are brothers with extreme points of views. One is damming the coach one is defending the coach. Someone is right or we are all wrong. The way I see it is if we lose you are wrong and if we win you are right. At this point in the series we now have 31% chance of winning so I am ready to complain. Please make me wrong and put me in my place of know nothing about humanity and hockey. But if I am right you must be shamed, don’t you think? I get angry at my brother but I don’t hate him.

        • "The Original Rob" says:

          Rock,

          First off, YES, we are ALL brothers and sisters here!!!

          This is EXACTLY why I wrote this post just the other day, right after YOUR post promising about to not complain about AV anymore untill after the playoffs lol lol.

          You’re preaching to the choir my friend!!!

          Look, this was just from Tuesday.
          ________________________________
          Rangers Rock on Apr 11, 2016 at 1:15 pm
          I will stop complaining for the playoffs. Erase the past and be in the present. Prove me wrong AV. I want to be wrong. LGR!

          2 0 Rate This
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          “The Original Rob” on Apr 11, 2016 at 1:36 pm
          Now THAT’S the spirit Rock!

          I was going to post a heartfelt message inside the next two days, regarding this very same thing.

          We all have to put aside our rifs with management and anything negative with Rangerland going forward from this point on, as it would all be moot points and irrelevant now.

          So, we should ALL channel our inner Ranger prayers together and ask for the Hockey Gods to give us and the team to be successful and mental health for us Ranger fans these next several months 🙂

          My message would have been put together a bit better if I had more time, but since you brought it up, I just got caught in the moment and had to write something lol.

          I’m sure some of the better writers like Eddiex3, Fotiu, Hattrick or RFIB will out something better together soon 🙂

          LGR!!!

          0 0 Rate This
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          “The Original Rob” on Apr 11, 2016 at 1:39 pm
          *put out*

          0 0 Rate This
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        • James says:

          Everyone knows AV isnt going to get fired…and nobody can honestly make a case any coach who takes any team to the ECF two years in a row should be fired.

  9. Jeff P says:

    Reminds me of Rex Ryan and the Jets. Two great years with previous regime’s players, and steadily downhill from there.

  10. Chris A says:

    The goal this year was to not extend the team in the regular season because no one has played more NHL matches than the Rangers over the past 4 years.

    AV got the team to the playoffs while keeping every key player’s minutes, except Hank (and that was due to the backup getting a concussion around xmas), under their career averages.

    If anything, this regular season was a masterful coaching job by AV. He implored his team to wrap up a playoff spot early, and they did. The Rangers were a playoff team from the first game of the season. Maybe the process stunk in the first quarter of the season, but the fact remains, the Rangers ran away and hid with a playoff spot in that time.

  11. Ray says:

    In a team sport, a really good player is one who makes you think he has great teammates, makes you think he has a great coach.

    When people here (including me I’m sure) evaluate players, we group the Rangers into two classes – those we try to evaluate fairly and those we grade on a curve. Most tend to grade the kids on a curve, some like the tough guys, some like the flashy players, most love the franchise heroes.

    This season, Lundqvist made lots of great saves, but so did every other goalie. He was lights out in stretches, but stunk at times as well. His save percentage was eighth among the twenty tenders who played 50 or more games. Above average, sure. Great, sorry. Oh, he led or nearly did in ES save percentage. Yeah, but he was awful on the PK. Let’s not cherry pick – look at everything.
    and everything suggests he is a strength, but he is not the whole team.

    Last year, the Rangers had a very good team with Talbot in goal and they mostly have the same players. Suddenly they are crap saved only by their goaltender.

    AFAIK, no one views Cam Talbot as one of the greats. Cam Talbot played in front of the atrocious Edmonton defense this year. I’m sure he wasn’t thinking, gee I’m glad I don’t have to play behind Girardi and Staal. There is no way comparing Hank to Talbot this year is fair to Talbot, but let’s compare anyway.
    Hank had a .920 save % and Talbot a .917 save %. Hank faced 1944 shots. Had he been only as good as Talbot, that difference would have meant six more goals against. Does anybody seriously think six extra randomly placed goals would have cost the Rangers 9 points in the standings? (and put them out of the playoffs).

  12. paulronty says:

    Do I think Lundqvist saved AV’s job? No, But I do think that Hank was stellar, esp early in the season when the Rangers were being roundly outplayed almost every game. And then he was stellar again just when it looked like the wheels were falling off. The D in front of him was for the most part dreadful but without Hank we are not even in the playoffs, all due respect to Raanta. It reminds me of Mike Richter in his post Cup years when fans criticized him intensely without mentioning that he played behind some of the worst defences ever manned by the Pilons, Hatchers, Ulanovs(might have been the worst D-man I’ve ever seen),Jason Doig, Dale Purinton, Kim Johnsson etc. etc. The reality is that this team has really underperformed. Who will be held responsible if they get crushed. That will be up to Gorton. As AD has said, Gorton is the guy who will have to figure it out. As for Hank, he’s worth every penny he is being paid because he hasn’t been getting a lot of help.

  13. Leetchie Nut says:

    Gimme a break! So did Torts….so did Renney… so does Sather and Gorton….so does anyone associated with this team the last 11 years.

    Oh and PS: cannot believe the Tanner Glass bashing stil continues. One of the few players who actually shows up every night and makes an impact in every sense of the word. Ridiculous.