Too much holiday fun leads to questionable lineup decisions

December 27, 2017, by

alain vigneault

Ladies and gentlemen, I regret to inform you that Alain Vigneault is at it again. AV has put his lines through a blender, and somehow came up with this concoction that made us all go “wtf?” At this point, I’m unsure if AV thinks these are his best lines, or if he’s just trolling the fan base.

Let’s make a few things very clear: David Desharnais is not a top-six center for the long term. He’s a solid feel-good story and has been a pleasant surprise for this team. He slides in nicely as the fourth line center in a rotation with Paul Carey and Boo Nieves. That’s not a knock on Desharnais by any means. But slotting him as the 2C –or worse, 1C– doesn’t lead to long-term success.

Second: Jimmy Vesey is not a top-six forward. This again is not a knock on the kid, but he is not more skilled than Pavel Buchnevich or JT Miller. He does not have the ceiling of either. Vesey is a good bottom-six winger who can fake it in the top-six every now and then. He rounds out the lineup very nicely when used properly.

Third; Buchnevich on the fourth line is absurd. This is the most talented forward the Rangers have had since….ever? I honestly don’t know. Gotta play the kid for him to grow.

Fourth: This illusion of accountability is getting old. AV doesn’t hold his trusted vets accountable for anything (see: Staal, Marc; Holden, Nick). But if a kid takes a bad penalty, it’s to the bench and to the fourth line. There’s sending a message, which I’m fine with, and being inconsistent with that message, which I’m not fine with.

Fifth: At this point, I believe AV’s ability to objectively judge his own players has completely left him. He seems to be stuck in the old NHL where skill players who have struggles defending don’t belong in the top-six. It’s up to the coach to both grow the player and to put the player in a position to succeed.

Sixth (and final): The job of the coach is to get the best out of his lineup. For the most part, I’m not going to nitpick over little things. I’ll ask questions, because that’s what I do, but I’m not going to get overly concerned over little things like distinguishing between second/third lines or third/fourth lines. But when it’s first/fourth lines or a guy playing way above his role, I’ll be concerned. That’s what sparked this post. Too many times this year we’ve seen guys playing above their roles in the lineup. It’s a trend, and that’s no good.

"Too much holiday fun leads to questionable lineup decisions", 3 out of 5 based on 16 ratings.
Categories : Rants


  1. RichS says:

    This lineup is going to be a tough one for even the most ardent AV supporters to defend. I am not a big AV fan, but I dont mind some ”’mixing it up”’ once in a while to combat staleness during the long season.
    That being said, perhaps the reason AV is doing this is that he is INCAPABLE of change to his ”system” and to his ”’strategy”’. In AV I dont see a very knowledgeable coach who is capable of making any in-game or between-game adjustments on a strategical level. He has no other ideas except to change lines around……thats it….
    That is why his teams usually underperform in the playoffs….most good coaches adapt their system depending upon the opponent AV…never….
    To be fair to AV, hockey and hockey coaches in general arent on as sophisticated a level as football coaches where every play, player etc etc are analyzed under a microscope on film…maybe because they play only 16+ games a year….

  2. avsucks says:

    ” At this point, I believe AV’s ability to objectively judge his own players has completely left him.”


  3. wwpd says:

    buchnevich on the 4th line is absolutely maddening. is AV a mad genius burying one of his most skilled forward on the bottom lines? he’s our #2 scorer playing just 14 minutes per game. the 55% oz starts help.

    tarasenko only played 15 minutes a game in his second season. does AV hate the kids, or secretly love and nurture the kids?

  4. pas44 says:

    Heres why I am hopeful.

    Nash – Zibanejad- Zuccarello
    Kreider – Desharnais- Vesey
    Grabner – Hayes – Miller
    Carey – Nieves – Buchnevich

    Zucc is making plays, Zib can benefit form that and Nash’s power moves could leave Zib finding better ice then others

    Vesey and Kreider have been playing strong, Desh could find them after some of his behind the goal efforts…

    Miller and Hayes have both had very good hands, and Miller just started getting some breaks… Grab will open it up for them and hopefully get some sweet leads

    Buch on the 4th could lead to open ice, and I would love to see this guy make some of those moves!!!!

    I am hopeful baby!

    2018, new year, not doubting a coach that wins like AV does…

    we still need some moves but tonight I am hopeful… except unless we get hit too much… we need grit!


  5. Stevem says:

    Pavs in goal

  6. Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

    Going to repeat what I posted on the previous page, but also specifically address some of Dave’s thoughts.

    Oh my! So much hand-wringing and angst over a whole bunch of nothing. AV, like many coaches, juggles his lines. What a shock! Somehow out here, there is this belief that this is an “AV thing” when in fact there are examples all over the league where coaches do this.

    It is also a whole bunch of nothing because what AV (and other coaches) start out with in a game quickly changes based on circumstances anyway. So again, big deal. Who cares?

    Oh and btw….our superstar elite untouchable player Pavel Buchnevich in December? 11 games. 2 goals. 3 assists. WOW! How in the world could any sane individual even think of shifting him?

    And there was this after practice today from AV…

    “After a three-day break when you haven’t practiced, this will catch everybody’s attention.”

    Translation—“I’m not happy with what I’ve seen the last few games. I need more. So, the team is getting a collective message sent here. I need max effort and certain guys NEED to be better.”

    I know. Awful. Fire him into the sun!!!!!!! 🙂

    Now to Dave’s points….

    1) DD. Agree, he is no long term answer. But this isn’t about long term answers. This is all about short term in a tight divisional race the likes of which we’ve rarely seen before. Simply put, it’s about best interest of the team to get two points tonight in a crucial division game. Long term concerns are irrelevant in that equation. DD by your own admission has played well this season. Why not reward him?

    2) Vesey. Too soon to say for sure what he will be. What I like about him, and I suspect why he is getting rewarded, is he’s a max effort guy like Fast that has earned a little promotion. Again, it’s not about long term here. It’s about tonight.

    3) I didn’t realize Buchnevich changed his last name to Ovechkin. Aren’t you going just a little overboard here? Why does a young player who still hasn’t figured it all out yet have to play max minutes in order to grow? This is not a pee wee development team. He is getting great exposure but is still a work in progress. And no where near at this point the kind of player that should be immune to line shuffling.

    4) vehemently disagree. This is coaching 101 stuff. Parcells had “his guys”. Billy Martin had his guys. Brooks had his guys. Torts had his guys. It goes on and on. The idea that all players are treated the same is ludicrous. What is consistent with AV and most coaches is that he will send messages to players that need messages sent. What’s the point of sending a message to Staal or Holden? They are who they are. Sending a message to kids who need to be better and who have upside is critical to their development and that of the team. The team can’t get better if all we continue to get is the same old same old from our so-called “stars”. This is a very normal and well accepted way of coaching. And hardly a “thing” unique to AV. Pretty strong likelihood that unless the Rangers are in complete rebuild mode, the next Rangers coach will do much the same, just like Torts did before AV.

    5 and 6) too subjective for comment. I will only say that IMO, AV’s approach doesn’t seem to be all that different from guys like Babs, Q, Weight, Hakstol, McLellan, Trotz, etc….all of whom have been accused this season of bizarre lineup decisions and erratic TOI for some players.

  7. Walt says:


    Points 4 & 5 are spot on! I haven’t been too hard on AV all season, but the man just doesn’t get it, and is stuck in a time warp!!!!!!!!! I can’t wait to see him go, anywhere but here…….

  8. tanto says:

    This may work short term for a couple of games, but this is no long term solution to what ails this team — which on some days is the coaching.

  9. pas44 says:

    theres a TRADE brewing.

  10. Chuck A. says:

    Buch on the fourth line – meshuggah.

  11. Spozo says:

    Let me first say that I don’t agree with Buch being on the same line as Boo and Carey.

    Now that’s out of the way I’ll focus on your other huge issue with this lineup. David Desharnais. He’s on the “2nd line”. First off this ain’t mismanagement of the roster. It’s not having a true 2nd line center on this team. Zib, although still trying to get back on track post concussion is the clear cut 1C on this team. Hayes is now the shutdown center on this team. I’m not even going to give his line a number. He’s the shutdown center who matches up against the other teams top players and see the majority of the defensive zone starts.

    Now who does this leave for the other 2 center positions. There’s Boo, DD and Miller. Dave has said till he’s blue in the face that Miller is a better winger, and I agree with him. So that mean DD and Boo get the remaining 2 center positions. Hayes stays as the shutdown center because the other 2 are clearly inferior options in that role. So that leaves DD as the 2nd/3rd line center. Boo remains the 4th.

    So why exactly are we getting it panties in a bunch over this?

    Switch Buch and Vesey (who may happen tonight anyway) and that will appease most of the masses.

    DD in a top 9 role is a product of an extremely flawed roster that needs another top 6 centerman.

    • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

      100% agree. Well said.

      I also would prefer Buch off the 4th line. But I get why AV is doing this. This is a “I need more from you” statement from AV, and it’s up to Buch, who’s been quite ordinary in December, to answer. Which I suspect he will and as you said, this likely gets switched up as the game goes on.

      • Richter1994 says:

        “But I get why AV is doing this. This is a “I need more from you” statement from AV”

        Yes, because being one of the best 5 on 5 forwards the Rangers have is obviously not good enough.

        • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

          Yep. 2 goals 3 assist in the past 12 games. That’s just a phenomenal pace that is likely to get him Hart Trophy consideration. I mean, why should we ask or expect a talented player to give more, when being extremely mediocre for entire month is certainly more than acceptable to some it would seem?

          • Richter1994 says:

            Well, if your coach would play Buch more than 10-12 minutes per game then maybe he would. 🙂

            I believe, and you can check me on this, Buch is near the top for pts per 60 on the team.

            I decided that, for 2018, I should be more opinionated, to come out of my shell a little more. What do you think bro?

            • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

              Actually, me too! I think we both need to speak up more. 🙂

              • Richter1994 says:

                It depends on what you say, lol.

                I would have responded to spozo too but he gets mad at me, lol.

  12. King Sieveqvist ! King Sieveqvist ! says:

    Why does he play Pav tonite ? Afraid of O’vie against Hank or something ? You sit him Ftiday on the Road … This guys sometimes makes absolutely the wrong calls !

  13. James Carr says:

    These same critics would want mike Babcock fired in Toronto after he put Mitch marner on the 4th line

    • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

      Exactly. Shifting guys around is only clueless coaching when it’s done by AV…you should know that!