Oct
09

Different players, same coach, same questions

October 9, 2017, by

alain vigneault

The Rangers seemed to turn a major corner this summer, recognizing a need to be more mobile on the blue line and acting to fix that need. Off went Dan Girardi and Kevin Klein, in came Kevin Shattenkirk and Brendan Smith. Marc Staal was moved to the third pairing. Nick Holden seemed to be the odd man out.

These moves came one year after the club made the same types of changes up front. Skill, speed, and youth seemed to take charge at forward, and the results were a fast paced offense that could almost score at will. On paper this season, the Rangers could be one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference.

The wild card has always been Alain Vigneault. Stubborn to a fault, AV will play his guys in a way that he believes will win hockey games. He’s been very successful with that strategy as well, as he’s one of the winningest active coaches in hockey. However the best coaches still adjust, and that is the area that AV is lacking.

It appeared that Jeff Gorton had forced AV to play the players that will win the most games in the new speed based NHL. There were still some old toys around –Staal, Holden, Kampfer– and some new toys that fit AV’s need for “toughness” in Paul Carey and Andrew Desjardins. All five are still around, some over kids who played better in training camp. The kids in camp aren’t the issue though, as it’s better to get them consistent playing time in the AHL.

The issue at hand is that AV still shoots himself in the foot with roster decisions. The Rangers didn’t open the season well, with a bad loss against Colorado and an even worse showing in Toronto. AV appeared to panic, dressing 11 forwards and 7 defensemen while scratching Brendan Smith (who struggled) and Filip Chytil (who barely played). Perhaps the worst is putting Staal back on the top pair, but that’s a whole other topic for another day.

We can all complain about those roster decisions, but let’s be real here. We all expected this to happen in October. We knew AV would sit new guys for his guys, even if just to see what everyone has to give to the team.

Perhaps the larger concern, focusing on Chytil here, is his in-game deployments. Chytil had a strong camp, strong enough to warrant top-six minutes. But those minutes were in theory. Chytil was left off the powerplay in the first two games and played just under 13 minutes in both games combined. Given every chance to succeed in the preseason, AV went right back to his old ways as soon as the season started.

Beyond Chytil, the blue line ice time is a major problem. Using last night’s game as the barometer, Tony DeAngelo, who has done everything to show he belongs, played just 3:45 through two periods. Yet Holden and Steven Kampfer were at over 12 minutes. How does that show progress and learning? How does that put DeAngelo in a position to succeed?

Teaching an old dog new tricks is critical to the success in an ever evolving league. Perhaps this is just AV seeing what he has with the new roster. But we’ve seen too much and AV doesn’t have the benefit of the doubt anymore, he lost that over the past two seasons. AV needs to adjust.

"Different players, same coach, same questions", 5 out of 5 based on 31 ratings.
Categories : Coaching

79 comments

  1. Chris A says:

    Can we not panic over last night’s roster decisions?

    DeAngelo was essentially a healthy scratch last night. If the Rangers were allowed to only dress 19, DeAngelo would have been wearing a suit last night alongside Smith and Chytil. DeAngelo and Smith were both atrocious against Toronto. If the Rangers were allowed to carry more players on the active roster, both Smith AND DeAngelo would have been deservedly scratched last night. DeAngelo got to dress because he can get a few minutes on the PP if needed where as Smith is simply replaced by lesser versions of himself in Kampfer and Holden.

    As for Chytil, it seems he can’t hack it in the NHL … yet. It would have been a nice bonus if Chytil could actually contribute in the NHL a mere month after his 18th birthday, but it seems like once the regular season started he was lagging behind the play. He’ll get sent away for the rest of 17-18 and some reinforcements will join the roster, allowing AV to actually dress 12 F and 6 D.

    Once B. Smith pulls his head out of his but, Staal will no longer be playing on the top pair. But to say AV panicked by benching Smith is a wild overstatement. Anyone that watched the first period Saturday night would have assumed Wade Redden came out of retirement and was taking shifts wearing a Smith #42 jersey. That’s how awful Smith was Saturday night. The 1 on 3 on the PK that allowed Gardiner to score, Smith gave Gardiner the entire left side of the zone in one of the worst defensive mistakes I have ever seen. Smith lunged at Gardiner for no reason and basically rolled out a red carpet through the Rangers’ zone for Gardiner to attack.

    Someone on this blog said that Smith looked like trash all preseason, it seems to have continued into the regular season. McD might need to put a boot up the end of his old Wisconsin buddy and implore him to wake up.

    • Chris F says:

      A+

      Chytil, for all his talent, is physically and mentally unready for a full NHL season, especially getting top line assignments. I am super excited about the kid, but Game 1 showed just how deficient he is when removed from the AHL level competition of the preseason.

      In those 8 minutes of TOI it became clear that this wasn’t a project that could be developed in-season without taking away critical top minutes from more deserving and effective players, and we certainly don’t want him languishing away on the 4th line. And so, I’m pretty sure a decision was made after Game 1 that they’d keep him around as long at they can without surpassing the 9 game limit, giving him some games on and some off, getting practices in, and learning from the veterans in the room. It’ll be good for him, it’s not mismanagement.

      As for Staal, Holden, Kampfer, after game 1 and 2, certainly a message needed to be sent, and Smith definitely didn’t come ready to play this season. While I’d rather stick with the more talented core, if there ever was a game to take a gamble and shake things up, it’d be against an offensively inept Montreal team.

      Moving forward, I really do want to see McDonagh-Shattenkirk-Skjei-Smith-Staal/Holden-DeAngelo, and I’d begin to be concerned if Staal starts becoming a fixture on the first pairing and DeAngelo gets benched repeatedly, but right now, for one game, it wasn’t necessarily the wrong call.

      I’m just getting so sick of the perpetual complaining about everything. Some fans will never be satisfied or exhibit patience. The season is far too young to get worked up over experimentation.

      • Reenavipul says:

        You can’t have him eating minutes as a 2nd line center? Fine, stick him on the wing in Miller’s spot with Hayes and have him be the last guy back instead of Grabner. This isn’t rocket science, unless you’re AV.

        Then it’s top secret rocket science.

        • Chris F says:

          Yes, an 18 year-old future 2C, let’s just stick him on the wing simply so we can all feel excited about him making the team.

          That’s horrible mismanagement. He either plays top minutes at C, which he’s clearly not ready for, or we ship him back after he plays 9 games to get more seasoned and bulk up for next season. There is no middle-ground development track for this kid.

          • Reenavipul says:

            No, you put him on the wing to lighten his load defensively and expose him to the speed and the travel grind of the NHL, two things he’ll never see in Zlin. Sitting for 55 minutes while he’s here doesn’t do him good.

            Development is a long game that AV has very little interest in playing. It’d be great to coach them up solely in Hartford, but the CBA in regards to waivers makes it pretty much mandatory that some teaching needs to be done at the NHL level.

            • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

              Reena-

              You make a valid point, but I would argue that MOST coaches in the NHL are that way. Ina league where there is so little separating the playoff teams with the non-playoff teams, every point counts. So it’s more than understandable that AV would think that way.

              How well did Torts handle the “long game” when he was here? Just ask Kreider and Zuc. Not real well.

              • Chris F says:

                I still don’t think throwing a barely 18 kid into an unnatural position that he’s not comfortable with just to give him more exposure to NHL competition is the way to go.

                I’d venture a guess that in that 8 minutes of ice time in game 1 he came away with enough of an eye opening experience to prove useful in his preparation for either a call-up later in the year or to make the team next season.

                He now knows what he’s up against and can prepare accordingly.

                You’re not wrong, necessarily, but I don’t think it’s as simple as “more ice time is better no matter the role.”

              • Reenavipul says:

                Wing vs center is like removing the ego from the Id/Ego/Superego conversation.

                You let the skill express itself, while not demanding full accountability defensively.

                This is line construction 101.

                E3, most winning coaches hired today are cognizant that teaching players who aren’t quite ready is part of the process in today’s structure.

                Amazingly, Torts has adapted to today’s game. The same can’t be said of AV.

      • oakey516 says:

        Av is a Cluster-Fek who cares only about winning now. He is an Ego maniac who is a threat to this team growing and becoming great. His shortsightedness and stubborn foolishness killed us last year in the play offs.

        Stop stop Chytil was never given the opportunity to succeed at the NHL so stop kidding yourself. Now he is sitting Tony D and Brendon Smith really?

    • roadrider says:

      This.

      Agree 100% on all points.

  2. Scott Terrell says:

    AV has had all the time in the world to “adjust”, but his ego won’t let him. Time for a coach who will “adjust”. It sure as hell ain’t Vigneault!

  3. Richter1994 says:

    That line up last night was abominable. Staal, Holden, and Kampfer all in at the same time, just like the good ole days with Staal, G, and Klein. DeAngelo was playing RIGHT WING at times during last night’s game.

    Needless to say, Holden/Kampfer was a dumpster fire all night. Hey, but they won. Of course they did, the King played out of his mind. He made a few stops off deflections that were off the charts.

    I can’t kill the coach for Chytil because he’s obviously going back overseas, but i would love to know what Gorton thinks about this situation.

    I don’t care what AV’s regulars season record is because the Rangers will never win a Cup with this guy as coach. I thought that after 2014 when AV “went rogue.” And Ruff is not the answer either, looking ahead. I want a “Hakstol” type coaching this team.

    • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

      You do realize that, despite the Flyers quick start, Hakstol is at the top of most people’s lists to be canned this year. “Hakstol types” (aka untested college coaches) are a major crap shoot and more often than not, they don’t pan out. Take a look at the NY Football Giants….their bright young genius coach is a tire fire and will likely be canned at season’s end.

      Staal played well enough last night. In fact, you can make a case he’s been one of the better defensemen (not saying much because they’ve all been mostly bad so far). I agree Holden and Kampfer are not good, and I wasn’t wild about the 11F/7D approach, but hey, it’s one game.

      The guy they miss, crazy as it sounds, is Fast. Once he gets back into the lineup, you watch, things will stabilize a bit. We will skate 12F/6D again, people will be in the roles they are supposed to be in. We will be better then. In the meantime, guys are still learning their roles.

      No need to panic after three games. You said it yourself the other day—RELAX!

      • roadrider says:

        Absolutely correct about Fast. If he wasn’t hurt I doubt that Chytil even makes the team.

        As I regular reader of this blog I half expected that the universe would implode because Staal played first pair last night. But what do you know? The Rangers won and we haven’t collapsed into a singularity.

        Go figure!

      • Rangers Rock says:

        Fasth will not improve the offense and he will be placed on the 3rd line where he does not belong ruining an offensive line and making it into defensive.

        • Chris F says:

          Kreider-Zibanejad-Buchnevich
          Nash-Hayes-Zuccarello
          Grabner-Miller-Vesey
          Cracknell-Desharnais-Fast

          Not sure how you think Fast would slot in on the 3rd line?

          • Chris A says:

            Glad you got that donkey Carey out of the lineup. One of the worst forwards on the Rangers in a long time.

            At least Glass could check and punch faces. Carey just flings the puck away like a live grenade every time it comes to him.

            Carey is nowhere near skilled enough to play on this team.

      • Richter1994 says:

        Hakstol has had zero to work with, save for a few good players. I would take him on the Rangers.

        Staal sucked. Honestly, you cannot see the way guys get beat by watching the games on TV. There was one play where he pivoted to go backwards and almost fell down. Not saying it doesn’t happen to others but he’s so awkward and unable to keep up with the quickness of opponents that it’s painful to watch. It’s a complete joke that hes’ on the top pair. Not a coincidence that McD had a very rough night. He’s back to carrying around one of AV’ faves, I mean anchors.

        I love Fast and I agree to a point. Fast is not a game changer. He plays 12ish minutes, that’s not going to make for the Rangers’ lack of possession the last 2 games. Fast is great along the boards and helps on the forecheck, but at 12ish minutes how much of an impact on the entire game could there be?

        • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

          But McDonagh hasn’t been good in ANY of the three games this year. I’m certainly not giving up on the possibility of the McD-Shatty pair working out, but I said during pre-season we have NO idea if those two will ever have any chemistry. So far, in a very small sample, they don’t look good together. Same thing about Skjei-Smith. Everyone went gaga over Smith after he played well last year. But he’s been a pretty unremarkable player for most of his career. It made sense for the Rangers to re-sign him, but when I start reading stuff out here that our top two pairs will be the best in the sport, again, it sounds like another in a long line of overstatements.

          I said during camp, I wouldn’t be surprised if they conclude that the “top four” be spread out among the three pairs to provide better balance. Shatty has never been a first pair guy. Maybe spreading it out will work better.

          TBD

          • RichS says:

            3E , we finally agree on something….McDonagh has not played well so far, I believe he is pressing on offense, getting caught at times…..maybe trying to match shattys offensive ability?
            As bad as things have been so far, had nash converted on a few of his numerous opportunities we could have won all three???? As that starts to happen, and it will we will be fine!
            I like what I have seen so far with Shattys defense…..I expected it to be poorer……

          • Richter1994 says:

            McD has not been good so far, that’s very true. But why put Staal with him? I would rather see DeAngelo on the right side of McD. At least give him someone that can skate.

            And why break up McD-Shatty after 1.5 games?

            See this is why I don’t think AV is a good coach. His solution to everything is to juggle the very second a combination doesn’t work. I mean, give it 5 games at least.

            • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

              But what if you go 0-5? You might be in a hole you can’t get out of. I think most coaches tinker. Especially early in the season.

              And again, just because the press advanced the idea that McD-Shatty should be a pair, we have NO IDEA if they actually would work well together. They might be far better playing with different partners. Yes, I realize that the counter argument is play them so you can find out, but the coach’s job is to get enough points to qualify for the playoffs. This roster has significant flaws in a balanced Eastern Conference. If your gut feeling as a coach is, something else might work better, with such a slim margin of error for this team when comparing to the rest of the conference, then that’s why you pay the coach to make those decisions.

              I think the problem is we got ourselves all worked up over a pairing that we ASSUMED would be great. As I said months ago, it might be better to split them up. Too soon to tell.

              • Richter1994 says:

                0-5? Bro, you honestly think the Rangers “deserved” to win that game last night? You could have had any D pairing combos last night and the Rangers win anyway because Hank was his “off the charts” self.

                Staal was getting blown by time after time. McD was not great. Skjei-Shatty was ok and Holden-Kampfer was a dumpster fire. So how could McD-Shatty be any worse?

                Don’t confuse the results with actual effectiveness.

              • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

                That’s true. I’m not arguing for it because the result was a win. I’m saying that a coach also should operate with a “gut feel”. Pretty much every coach does that. So what we do know is, the first two games, we did not play well. It’s more than reasonable to shake things up in the next game. I suspect most every coacvh would consider that.

                I saw Staal make lots of good plays, so I disagree with the “blown by” analysis (but I will defer to you since you were there and I was watching on TV).

                I’m not saying that should or should not be the pairing next game or not. I just don’t think its all that big of a deal if the coach tinkers and tries a few things when things are not working.

                In an alternate universe, maybe if he had made no changes, maybe we lose. Unknown.

              • Richter1994 says:

                The issue is that AV, somehow, finds a way to put his faves into important roles.

                In 1.5 games, Staal went from 3rd pair to top pair, without any proof that he deserved such a promotion. In fact, his plodding style of play would suggest that he not play at all.

                I’m sure AV got a woody when Staal scored the goal the other night. Made him look like a genius, but the fact is that AV and the coaches have the benefit of video to relive the other (and more frequent) moments of incompetency. I would love to ask AV what he sees that the rest of don’t.

                And BTW, the other night G did one of his infamous “snow angels” on a 2 on 1 that resulted in a tap in goal for the opponents because the passing player expected G to flop and slipped the pass right by him. Stevie Y must have been very proud of his offseason signing.

              • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

                And while G did his snow angel, Clendo was watching his new team from the press box, where he’s in his expected 7D role on the arguably the worst team in the league. So everyone is doing exactly what they were always doing, even with AV not calling the shots. Just sayin! 🙂

              • Richter1994 says:

                LOL, well done bro.

              • Egelstein says:

                Brendan Smith suppresses shots at an elite rate in the NHL. His shots suppressed per hour 5v5 TOI is a 9 of a possible 10 on the HERO chart factoring in the range of 2015-2017; 5 is average. That’s not to say he looked completely awesome in his first two games; he sure didn’t. But he is a seasoned veteran. He doesn’t learn anything from sitting in the press box like a younger player with far less games under his belt. He didn’t lose a skill he’s shown throughout his career in the off-season. He had a few rough games and a slow start. His upside far surpasses those who played in his stead in game three. If he’s battling some sort of injury, fine. That’s defensible. If not, definitely a major overreaction to sit him by Captain Tinkers. Shaking up pairings is one thing. Benching one of your best four defenders after two bad games is something else.

                Staal can string together literally 20 games with “rough” being the maximum best outcome and “How is this guy even in the NHL?” being the more likely outcome (he did last season; I’d say he had about 60 games in that general range), and his spot in the top six is almost bulletproof, because AV.

                As for Clendening, again with the grave-dancing? Who cares? The point is that Girardi routinely makes terrible errors, has not performed at an NHL level in shot suppression for literally years now (ironically, his “hallmark”), and yet he still gets regular ice time from The Fraternity of Good Hockey Men, because narrative. Literally a 0 ranking on the ’15-’17 HERO chart for shot suppression. Zero. That has nothing to do with Adam Clendening. Using that Clendo is sitting in PHX as argument in defense of Girardi playing in TB is like saying, “If six multiplied by four is twenty-four, then Cadillac with leather seats.”

        • Chris F says:

          To be fair, McDonagh has had three very rough games, with and without Staal.

      • gene4240 says:

        They miss Linburg as well. Oscar playing top line minutes, albeit with a expansion team but Oscar was good as well in the bottom 6 for us last year.

  4. RichS says:

    I have not been to any games yet this year but from my ‘vantage point’ DeAngelo seemed to play well with an occasional terrific pass setting up a scoring play or a nice breakout…… its been disappointing watching him with all his skill sit the bench while stall, holden and kamfer play……..
    Personally I think McDonagh is trying to do too much offensively and has been a bit lacking on the defensive side……but I know he will be fine…..
    As far as chytil, I would have rather he was sent back for more seasoning, but since he is here playing 5 minutes a game and then getting scratched , what good is that? Another AV head scratcher….
    However to give AV the benefit of the doubt, maybe deangelo and chytil
    just ”’got lost on the bench”’..
    I would like to see vinny letteri here, I thought he had a real strong preseason and fit in very nicely with the established players on their lines…..
    That said, if/when nash starts cashing in on a few of his maybe a dozen or more scoring chances we will be fine……

    • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

      I’m sorry, but DeAngelo has not been very good at all. Easing back his minutes and limiting him to the PP for a few games will hopefully get his attention.

      Kampfer and Holden are not the answer. I think everyone knows that. They are there in part to send a message to some guys that their play needs to step up.

      • RichS says:

        This reply is not meant for you alone 3E but for all of us including me….Its really amazing that we all watch the same game, the same players and come away with totally different / completely opposite opinions of the players…..
        That being said, it is hard to truly evaluate deangelo, chytil given their 5 minutes a game …
        I saw deangelo execute three of the best passes this season to set up scoring chances that I have seen ….the one last night went between a defenders legs to a wide open? Hayes? Nash? who missed the net or had it blocked….in this free wheeling wide open league, IMHO he needs to play consistently in order to improve his whole game…..

        • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

          All that is true Rich and a fair point. You tend to be more forgiving of mistakes with younger players and feel, by and large, you should just play them. I just vehemently disagree with that approach. This has been an ongoing discussion we have had with players like Miller, for example. JT was clearly talented, but he was extremely undisciplined. And there were serious questions about his maturity and make up as a player, much like DeAngelo. If you just decide to “let him play through it”, sure, he MIGHT figure it out, but at what cost to the team?

          If you’re a pro coach, you are paid to win games and make the playoffs. Period. So there’s a fine line between being patient and needing results in the here and now, what have you done for me lately world of pro sports.

          You are right that DeAngelo has made some impressive passes. But you are ignoring the fact that he’s made some egregious mistakes so far that are alarming.

          • RichS says:

            3E
            Yup, I like to see the younger guys play , I feel they/hope they will adapt to the league and get better the more they play….but I am not at the daily practices so maybe Avs way is the best way to go. [ex. JT Miller]
            And speaking of Miller I am glad he is finally at center where I think he will do quite well given his skill set- speed, forecheck ability, passing , ability and willingness to carry puck over bluelineand stand in front of net , checking…..I want to see him shoot more…..BUT if he continues to progress we have at least 2 excellent centers…..
            Now Hayes…..not much at all yet…..disappointing…..

            • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

              Yep….I’ve complained about Miller in the past but no complaints so far this year. He’s clearly maturing more and more so hopefully he’s on a track now to be the high level player we need him to be.

              Hayes? A mystery wrapped in a riddle. But it’s early yet.

              I suspect once Fast comes back, the lines will stabilize and we will see more consistency.

              Zib…I may have to start calling him an “elite beast”! 🙂

      • CTfan says:

        So many posts and nearly all of them clueless. Are we sure this isn’t AV with an assumed screen name.

    • Richter1994 says:

      I agree Rich, while DeAngelo hasn’t been “perfect” and God knows not one Ranger has been so far, he has shown very good skating and playing skills.

      That pass that freed Nash on a breakaway last night was tape to tape and Nash did not have to break stride. Brilliant pass.

      • RichS says:

        Richter 1994,
        Someone mentioned pair deangelo with mcdonagh which might help both players…..mcdonagh can concentrate on defense while deangelo could be the offensive player of that pair…..
        He could have 3 or 4 assists if he was passing to ovechkin with his shot!
        As far as your question below, I have liked Sjkels play so far , his D has been solid, couple big hits …..although like mcdonagh seems to be getting caught in offensive zone couple times, pushing the play…..

        • Richter1994 says:

          That would be me, or I should say that I suggested the pairing, only because DeAngelo is righty and can, what’s the word? Skate.

          AV insists on putting shackles on McD, with either G and now Staal. Brutal.

          Skjei-Shatty was “ok” not great. My statement was more to the point that no Ranger D man has stood out in a positive way and therefore does not warrant the messing with the pairings. At least not yet.

  5. Spozo says:

    where is this magical 8 ball that everyone is peering in to that say 18 year Chytil was a surefire 2nd like centerman at the ripe old age of 18 years old? Why is it a fact that if he doesn’t excel that it’s because AV never gave him a chance? Didn’t Dave write an article about tempering expectations on Chytil like a week ago? That AV had 9 games to see what the kid has? Isn’t that what he’s done? He gave him a chance, and it’s obvious to everyone that the kid isn’t ready. And that’s not a bad thing. He played a couple games and ended up a healthy scratch. Why are we losing our minds over this?

    • supermaz says:

      A chance? 4 shifts is a chance? come on.

      • Spozo says:

        so in your perfect world what should have happened. We saw he was overmatched in game one. Are we in agreement there? Should they have scratched him for game 2?

        • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

          There was never any realistic chance that Chytil was going to make it. He’s too young and just not ready for NHL competition yet. I would have liked to see him more, sure, but AV is trying to win hockey games here. Chytil, at the moment, is likely not going to help much in that regard. he needs to go back and play overseas where he can develop his game and fill out more.

      • Richter1994 says:

        Yeah, whether you agree or not that Chytil should be here, 12 minutes in 2 games does not a chance make.

        I agree that he should go back to Czech but in no way did he get a chance to prove or disprove his place here.

  6. Reenavipul says:

    Staal with McDonagh is at least defendable. Shattenkirk with McD makes 27 throttle his game back. The rest of it?

    Not even worth bothering about. AV gonna AV until he isn’t.

    Rangers travel to Montreal on the 28th. Maybe they should tell him to drive to the game.

  7. D C says:

    AV doesn’t need to adjust.
    AV needs to be fired.

  8. Mythdoc says:

    “On paper this season, the Rangers could be one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference.”

    Hmm, what paper is that? Can you please explain this, outside of the echo chamber of team bloggers who do say this? Because I don’t think anyone else out there has said or written that we are one of the best teams. And the assertion is almost comically, demonstrably false.

    • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

      The idea this team was going to be one of the best teams in the East as currently constituted was laughable. This year was year two of the “Rebuild on the fly”. Year one, overhaul the forwards, worked well and we still managed to crack 100 points despite all the changes. Now we are in year two, with an overhauled defense. Right now, we are still very much of a work in progress—and most of the league knows this. We have no players in the Top 50. Most every pundit has the Rangers as a borderline playoff team at best. Everyone knew full well this was going to take some time—which is why I believe Gorton gave AV the huge raise and extension—to give him that time.

      Barring an epic collapse, this is not about this year for AV. It’s a 1-2 year plan to get younger and then hopefully be in a position to make a serious run at the Cup.

      • Reenavipul says:

        Yes, because a 37 yr old goalie is much more likely to win a cup at that age.

        The only gimme on the schedule this month is Montreal and they whistled past the graveyard yesterday. The D will(hopefully) come around, but will AV’s plane run out of runway before it takes off?

      • Chris A says:

        I wouldn’t put too much stock in the pundits, they think the Rangers will stink because Stepan is gone.

        These are also the same pundits that keep clapping Captain Canada Stevie Y on the back for building … well, really nothing of note down in Tampa.

        This is a very good Rangers team, there is skill on all 4 lines and there are 5 very good D on the roster.

        It will take time, it always takes time for new players to get up to speed in AV’s system. Come December, the Rangers will be, as always under AV, in the top 10 in the league.

        • RichS says:

          Spot on Chris A……it will take time…… I also see skill up front and on defense……
          I dont expect to see nash continue to have numerous high quality scoring chances every shift …it seems ….and not score a bunch of goals…..

          • Chris A says:

            Exactly Rich, we just need to be patient.

            This team will get its 100 points, just like all recent Rangers squads.

  9. Spozo says:

    “It’s also fair to expect him to play nine games and then be returned to the Czech Republic.“

    Chytil saw his ice time diminish and ultimately ended up a healthy scratch by game 3

    “Chytil is being held back by the coach. Wahhhh!!!!!”

  10. Matt R says:

    “AV appeared to panic, dressing 11 forwards and 7 defensemen while scratching Brendan Smith (who struggled) and Filip Chytil (who barely played).”

    When things aren’t going well, AV likes to scratch players and put up weird line combos in order to motivate his players – I would absolutely not call this a panic. Is it a smart move? I have no idea, I am not an NHL coach, but I do not think that was a fair statement. I would be willing to bet my entire life savings there is no panic in a professional sports team’s locker room after 3 games of an 82 game season.

    • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

      Exactly right. Why would he panic? He seems like the calmest guy I’ve ever seen behind the bench. As AV likes to say, it’s all “part of the pro-cess”

  11. Sad panda says:

    Deanglo wasn’t that great the first two games but did you notice for some reason in those two games staal constantly kept pinching while deanglo was stuck playing defense. Even with mcdonagh last game he was pinching at horrible times. Someone as poor as a skater as him when compared to deanglo, shattenkirk or mcdonagh should never be pinching over them. He always gets caught cause he is so slow and can’t get back fast enough. He isn’t a two way or offensive defenseman he should stop acting like it.

    Deanglo needs a stay at home defenseman to be his partner. There will be growing pains obviously but with the right partner and guidance deanglo could be an amazing player. The reason he looked as bad as he did was staal gave him zero defensive help those gamss.

    This team is screwed if they plan on playing staal as a top defenseman all season.

    • roadrider says:

      Well that may be true about Staal pinching but it doesn’t explain D’Angelo coughing up the puck in his own end multiple times and not always when under pressure. Isn’t one of his strengths supposed to be moving the puck out of his own zone?

      • Bloomer says:

        The pass receiver needs to be open to make those tape to tape passes. It not always the defenceman fault, everyone needs to be skating and everyone needs to know the breakout system.

  12. joe from newburgh says:

    One of the problems is that the coach’s job is to see to it that the team wins games. In the end, that’s what he’ll be judged on by the higher ups, and the fans. It would be nice if developing young players counted for as much as winning, but, it doesn’t. You can’t blame a coach for believing that developing players is what the AHL, and the minors, and the NCAA, and the European leagues, are for. When it comes down to ensuring his job security, he’s going to for winning over development every time.

    • Matt R says:

      AV was just signed up until 2020 – I would be willing to bet he understands that developing players is key and he has spoken about developing players on many occasions. AV seems to favor a tough love approach and he has done an amazing job at developing JT Miller, Kevin Hayes, and to a lesser extent, Buch and Vesey. These young players know for sure if they dont execute the game the right way, they will not play, end of story.

      • Chris F says:

        Buchnevich is a great example. He’s a guy who got plenty of playing time (somewhat limited due to all the back issues) last year, but was sheltered from big-game moments and wasn’t given alot of trust in the playoffs. Everyone said AV killed Buchnevich’s progress, set him back, didn’t see what kind of talent he had, etc.

        Next season, right out the gate AV gives Buchnevich the top line winger slot. It is a process.

        • Chris A says:

          I’ll add that it’s not the same process for every player.

          Some guys, like Vesey and Miller, can handle tough love .. others like Buch and Hayes, need a softer touch from the coach to get the best out of them.

          Let’s not forget Zucc was looking like a bust until AV showed up in NY and then gave him a night off one game in November. After that scratch, Zucc’s career took off and he made that Pouliot/Brassard/Zucc line click in 2014-15.

          • Matt R says:

            And some guys, like Skjei, apparently don’t need any help developing at all. I am going to take a second out of my day to think about how happy I am to have him lol.

  13. Al Dugan says:

    The AV haters are going to hate no matter what happens.

    Here’s the facts: Tony D struggled on D first two nights. In his limited time he was on ice for two, did well on PP, and deserved to keep his PP slot. Smith was a out and out disaster. On ice for 5 against over 2 games, and just brutal against Toronto. Cheytl was 1-7 on face offs, no shots and his line generated just 10 shots in his limited time. There is exhibition game speed, then there is regular season speed. There was a face off in the Toronto game he lost so quickly, it was like he wasn’t there.

    I would have wanted AV gone if he did nothing after Saturday night.

    The Girardi buyout hamstrings the NYR on trades for a good Center.

    So, AV gets all the blame for Buch last year, and NONE of the credit this year?

    JT Miller refuses to shoot. Is that AV’s fault?

  14. Bloomer says:

    I didn’t think Delangelo was all that bad but sometimes a coach has to go with what he knows. Smith needs to step up his game, but as I said in a previous blog the knock on him has been his consistency.

    Leaky looked more like vintage Lundqvist his last outing. But anyone who thinks he is going to have a easier time of it with this bunch of dmen compare to last years’ blueline is living in a fantasy world.

    • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

      On paper, this defense should be better, much better. They just need some time to gel.

      • Bloomer says:

        I think they will be better on the attack Eddie and at breaking out. However when up against a heavy forechecking team they will have their hands full.

      • Richter1994 says:

        Right they need time to jell, so why does your coach change them up so often? Sometimes (actually often), coaching is about good ole common sense. Maybe that’s the problem.

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