It’s time to start trusting Brady Skjei

brady skjei
Photo Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Over the course of the past few weeks, coach Alain Vigneault has come under significant criticism. This is certainly warranted, as he has leaned on his veterans in the playoffs –like most coaches– to deliver late. The problem is that we are now at three games where these veterans have coughed up a late lead. All three times, the Rangers wound up losing in overtime.

While the players on the ice seem to change when the tying goal is scored, the one constant is that Brady Skjei rarely sees ice time in these situations. On Saturday, he was benched for the final five minutes. The Senators tied it late and won in overtime. The same thing happened in Game 2. Same result. He saw just one shift in Game 2 against Montreal. Same result.

The forwards on the ice varied. As did the defensemen. However the one constant is that Skjei, who has been arguably the best defenseman in the playoffs for the Rangers, remains stapled to the bench. For better or worse, AV will lean on his veterans to get him through to the next round. His quotes are pretty clear too:

“These guys have seen it before, and in the past, a lot of times they have responded real well,” Vigneault said when asked specifically about Girardi and Staal. “I put a lot of faith and trust in how they’re going to play in those pressure situations. That’s it. Got a lot of faith in these guys’ abilities to get it done.”

That’s a pretty depressing quote. It shows an alarming refusal to adapt to the present and living in the past. It shows a clear hesitance to play Skjei, who has had an outstanding rookie season and a solid playoffs. Even worse, is that AV seems to contradict himself in later quotes:

“Experience is good, but it’s only good if you’re playing well,” Vigneault said. “For whatever reason, we had quite a few that had an average [Game 5]. It was not an appropriate time. There’s nothing we can do about it.

So AV seems set on leaning on his veterans, even if they aren’t playing well. Skjei, who is not a veteran but is playing well, is caught in the middle. Staal, as noted by Ryan Lambert, was on the ice for HALF of the Senators’ high-danger chances on Saturday. HALF!

Another point worth noting Staal and Dan Girardi have been on the ice for 13 of the 15 goals against in this series. Let that one sink in for a moment.

There is no promise that subbing Skjei in for Staal or Girardi –or both– will move the needle in the right direction. For all we know, Skjei could be just as bad as the other guys in these situations. The thing is, we don’t know. But if what worked in the past is now failing, there is a need to adjust.

The definition of insanity is repeating the same actions while expecting different results. AV is repeating the same deployment and hoping his results –blowing leads– changes. That’s not going to cut it. It’s time to put Skjei on the ice in these situations. What do you have to lose?

"It's time to start trusting Brady Skjei", 3 out of 5 based on 16 ratings.

50 thoughts on “It’s time to start trusting Brady Skjei

  • May 8, 2017 at 12:21 pm

    In a must win situation, I don’t see AV doing something that is out of his comfort zone. Last time, he called up Glass.

    • May 8, 2017 at 3:44 pm

      He needs his security blanket.

  • May 8, 2017 at 12:24 pm

    Very hard to disagree with sound logic. I know he trusts certain guys, but fool me once shame on you, but fool me 3 times? C’mon AV, you need to change something in the final 5. At least add Smith and Skjei into the rotation for a shift. Can they do worse? Can another center lose less than 25% of the faceoffs? I think that is what Stepan is doing in the final 5 minutes. Let Lindberg take a faceoff, Let Skjei and Smith pair up and maybe let JT do something other than skate in circles.

    Dave – don’t say I never agree.

    • May 8, 2017 at 12:48 pm

      I know the flow of the game –and these pesky icings– don’t always allow for optimization of the lines late in a game, but if he has the opportunity I’d like to see him attempt the following:

      2-3 minutes out, I’d like to see Zuccarello-Zibanejad-Grabner, followed by a 1.5-1 minute mark change to Fast-Lindberg-Nash. The instructions should be to A) stop icing the puck and press for opportunities with that first rotation of players, and B) try to get a whistle no later than 1 minute, then deploy the next wave. Hopefully Lindberg wins that faceoff and they get the puck out, but if not, you have 3 solid, defensive fowards who can clamp down if needed.

      D-pairings would need to be something like Skjei-Holden to push the pace of play, and then swap to McDonagh-Smith for the close-out.

      That first D-pairing isn’t exactly ideal, considering Holden’s history of egregious mistakes, but he fits the bill of trying to push the play up the ice, along with Skjei. Then obviously McDonagh and Smith are undeniably our best defensive defenseman, so they close it out.

      It’s very hard to achieve this on a consistent basis, but something like this should be the intended deployment late in games

      • May 8, 2017 at 2:29 pm

        I have an even better idea. What we need to do is this – tell them anyone caught looking at the scoreboard gets glued to the bench.

        They need to play the aggressive, relentless, in-your-face hockey that was present in the first halves of games 3 & 4…..

        And once they start doing that, they need to NOT LET UP. AT ALL.

        No ‘o hay we gotz da lead GO GO GADGET TURTLETIME!’….

        It’s only very hard to achieve with guys more interested in playing a mean game of ‘slap-puck’ instead of HOCKEY!

        • May 8, 2017 at 3:59 pm

          Why are you always such an angry wiener dog? 😉

          • May 8, 2017 at 4:29 pm

            To be fair, have you ever met one that wasn’t?

            • May 8, 2017 at 5:12 pm


    • May 8, 2017 at 2:38 pm

      Did…….did we just agree on something?

      Brb – need lottery tickets.

    • May 8, 2017 at 6:57 pm

      Let’s not forget the Montreal series because Staal-Holden pulled the same gag on us. That should have been a 5 game series, this should have been a 5 game series as well. At this point AV has to shoulder some of the blame.

      • May 8, 2017 at 7:38 pm


        E3 would counter that by saying he is a future HOF coach, but still can’t win when the going gets tough.

        The guy can’t think straight, and always resorts to his comfort zone, G, Staal, Daisy Step, Glass, what can we say?????????

        Maybe if they retire, Marv will go with them into the wild blue yonder?????????

  • May 8, 2017 at 12:44 pm

    AV throws away games like Liz Taylor threw away husbands.

    • May 8, 2017 at 1:51 pm

      🙂 I’m so done with AV.

    • May 8, 2017 at 3:45 pm


  • May 8, 2017 at 1:14 pm

    These should be the 12 skaters rotated in the last 12 minutes:

    • May 8, 2017 at 1:15 pm

      I meant the last 3 minutes…with a lead.

  • May 8, 2017 at 1:48 pm

    I think that keys to the last few minutes are face offs we very rarely win them in the last few minutes with Stepan. Then, when we do win them, we seem to always look to ice the puck. We have seen this from every Dman from McD to Skjei. So even though we have played the 3 game tying goals with 5 of 6 Dmen, the play never gets out.
    As far a Staal goes, Boucher is no fool, he knows when to get his best players out against the weakest pair,especially with last change at home. Staal is absolutely brutal.

    • May 8, 2017 at 9:13 pm


  • May 8, 2017 at 1:56 pm

    Why would you ask the man to change his mind set, and do something different??? Brady Skjei is the future, Staal is the past, who can’t skate if his life depended on it. Why try something different other than Dan & Marc? This loyalty to these two guys is a farce, and proves time, and again, he’s thick headed, and or too damn stupid to realize what a liability they are!!!!!!!! You see, I’m married to a Sicilian woman, and I thought she was stubborn…….

    • May 8, 2017 at 9:59 pm

      You know what they say about i siciliani—they make the best friends & the worst enemies. My friend Joey, born in Brooklyn & living in Canada is Sicilian.

      • May 9, 2017 at 7:27 am

        Watch your back Doc, they like to measure people up for concrete shoes, LOL!!!!!!!!!

  • May 8, 2017 at 2:26 pm

    The notion that veterans can handle the situation better than young players is absurd. It is about temperament. At this point, no one on the team is struggling more to keep his emotions in check than Lundqvist. I certainly expect Skjei to handle the pressure better than Hank, even though Lundqvist has far more experience. These guys are all adults and need to be treated individually. You don’t go with the old guys when it is 6 on 5, you go with the guys who are good 6 on 5. They may be veterans, they may be kids. Just remember, the kids have played a lot of competitive hockey AND they are under far less pressure. Lundqvist, perhaps Nash and a few others, are thinking if no cup this year, than never. Such a thought is inconceivable to Skjei or Vesey; the pressure is far less.

    Incidentally, in light of some other things I’ve said, I would not change goaltenders. I expect Hank to be a liability in Game 6, but if the Rangers can somehow overcome that, Hank will be stellar the rest of the way and may yet win it all.

    • May 8, 2017 at 3:45 pm

      Ray, can you expand upon the following, “I expect Hank to be a liability in Game 6, but if the Rangers can somehow overcome that, Hank will be stellar the rest of the way and may yet win it all.”

      From HockeySatMiner:

      Henrik Lundqvist’s record when facing PO elimination at Madison Square Garden the past decade:

      10-1, .965 sv%, 1.05 GAA, 2 shutouts#NYR

      • May 8, 2017 at 4:13 pm

        Honestly, from now on, every time someone says something along those lines about number 30, I’m just gonna keep reposting the links to Yost’s articles on TSN.

        I guess I’ll make an exception here, though, as I’m still waiting for the mods to check another post I made a few hours ago containing said links.

        One of these days, hopefully, they (the people posting this crap) will actually realize just how incomprehensibly moronic their narrative has been.

        • May 8, 2017 at 5:11 pm

          Nah. Won’t ever happen. Doesn’t fit the narrative that “HANK IS AN OVERPAID DIVA!”

      • May 8, 2017 at 5:26 pm

        I am not so impressed with past decade numbers, starting the clock at a favorable point. Look at whole career.

        Anyway, here are my thoughts. In Game 1 vs. Ottawa, for the most part, Hank played as well as anyone can. However, he gave up a goal off his back that he could [I DO NOT SAY SHOULD!] have prevented. This goal and the subsequent loss disheartened him. He has not played well in this series at all. I can’t believe the finish of Game 5 improved his mindset. I see him as a man watching his dream of a Cup slipping away with nothing he can do about it.

        Personally, my hope is that the Ranger skaters come alive in the Garden and win anyway, much as they did in Game 3 when Hank played poorly. Then maybe Hank believes in his Game 7 magic. Then, my hope is that the knowledge that the Rangers could win a series when Hank didn’t excel gives Hank the confidence to believe that they can win the Cup if he does excel.

        Maybe you are right and Hank suddenly is reborn because it is a home elimination game.

        OTOH, which of us is more optimistic – you who believes Hank can win Victory 7 — or me who doesn’t think he will be very good tomorrow, but likely can convert 7 into 16 if he gets the chance.

        • May 8, 2017 at 7:57 pm

          “I am not so impressed with past decade numbers, starting the clock at a favorable point.”

          “Look at his whole career.”


          Rick James, is that you? Back from the dead to slap us with your hot takes?

  • May 8, 2017 at 3:32 pm

    ”””Another point worth noting Staal and Dan Girardi have been on the ice for 13 of the 15 goals against in this series. Let that one sink in for a moment.”””

    WOW..did I just read that correctly??????/

    And some fans are arguing whether AV should be fired???


    Would anyone be surprised if we had a lead and with a minute to go stall and girardi are the defenseman on the ice…along with stepan and glass….

    • May 8, 2017 at 3:38 pm

      Nice to see someone else pays attention around here…

      • May 8, 2017 at 3:44 pm

        You are dead on. I have always been an A.V. supporter but Staal should not have been out there and neither should Glass. Nash is one of our best defensive forwards so why was Glass used in his place. Skjei has been our best D-man so was was he not on the ice?

    • May 8, 2017 at 6:33 pm

      The stat that Girardi and Staal have been on the ice for 13 of the 15 goals against has to be put in context. They are generally matching up against the Sens top 2 lines. The 2 B’s (Brendan and Brady) are generally getting easier deployments.

      That said stapling Brady to the bench in crunch time makes no sense. He has been one of our best defenseman, can skate the puck out of the zone (so no icing), he has successfully risen to every challenge so far and he is the future so let him get experience in crunch time which will be invaluable down the road

      • May 8, 2017 at 7:46 pm

        you’re asking to change from a comfort zone, never happen!!!!!!!

    • May 8, 2017 at 7:45 pm


      Please send a text to AV with this information, he won’t give a damn, and will play the pylons anyway.

      That my friend is the reality of this guy, and we have to live with it until JG decides he’s had enough!!!!!!!!!!!

  • May 8, 2017 at 3:40 pm

    Is it just me or what. Why is no one talking about the fact Brassard kicked that puck toward the net and as such it shouldn’t have counted. I know they didn’t deserve to win but what are the rules there for if they aren’t enforced. Why didn’t the Ranger’s coaching staff catch it and challenge the goal?

    • May 8, 2017 at 3:45 pm

      (I’m not 100% sure on this, more like 99.5% but…..)

      I think he’s allowed to do that; as long as the puck isn’t kicked directly into the net (as it was bobbled by our guys, IIRC), then it’s a goal.

    • May 8, 2017 at 3:46 pm

      there is an article about this at Blueshirt Banter.

      It says the puck has to be touched by a stick after the initial kick. Not clear that it was.

  • May 8, 2017 at 3:57 pm

    I actually thought the overtime goal was offsides, vut we only saw one replay.

    • May 8, 2017 at 4:10 pm

      Rule 77, B allows for a player possessing the puck to enter the zone ahead of the puck (skating backwards, or toe-dragging it across the line, for example).

      Turris skated it in on an angle, so his skates entered the zone before the puck, but that’s perfectly legal per the rule.

      Off-side really only applies to players without the puck entering the zone before the puck. Doesn’t apply to the puck handler.

    • May 8, 2017 at 4:10 pm

      It was Sal. Turris preceded the puck.. which you can do if you have control.. he was stick handing while preceding the puck.. I don’t remember losing a challenge in the game, or using our timeout.. so why didn’t we challenge?

      • May 8, 2017 at 4:25 pm

        Doesn’t matter now, the game shouldn’t have come to that point in the first place

      • May 8, 2017 at 5:04 pm

        We did challenge. Lost the challenge. It was done while many of us were face down on our respective floors.

        • May 8, 2017 at 5:27 pm

          Ok fair enough, I was probably getting another beer to drown my sorrows.

  • May 8, 2017 at 4:51 pm

    Maybe he knows what I k ow and that is we do t have enough to win a Stanley cup.

    Expose a few players you want to get rid of, dangle the carrot in front of mgmt.

    • May 8, 2017 at 5:33 pm

      Nashville won 41 games and lost 41. I don’t think anyone thinks they don’t have enough to win the Cup. Surely, if Nashville has enough, so do the Rangers. I am not saying they will win, but they certainly can.

  • May 8, 2017 at 5:10 pm

    The criticism is “certainly warranted”, though he did what “most coaches” do. I guess that elevates the opinions of bloggers and commenters (“certainly” justified in criticism) above most coaches (concurring with a coach who’s been to more playoff games than Dancing Larry).

    On the late game deployment, need to remember 2 centers for D-zone faceoffs, unless unable from icings.

  • May 8, 2017 at 8:57 pm

    When Skeji is on the ice the Rangers break out is much better because he can skate the puck out of their own end. The most effective way to hold a team off in the dying minutes of the game is to keep the puck in their end of the ice. So absolutely Av needs to trust Skjei.

    • May 8, 2017 at 9:07 pm

      Wait, you mean having defensemen out there that can ‘play’ (thus controlling the puck & limiting chances against by virtue of the aforementioned)…..

      is a good idea….?


      If only we had more guys capable of being everything you just said…. wherever would we find such a person at this time of the year?

      Where’s a true genius like AV when we need him?

      • May 8, 2017 at 10:33 pm

        I still believe the Rangers will win this series. They have more talented forwards and will outscore the Sens.

        • May 8, 2017 at 10:35 pm

          One game at a time. We’ll get through tomorrow night at the Garden and go from there.

          • May 8, 2017 at 10:41 pm

            Well, I certainly hope you’re both right! LGR!

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