With Alain Vigneault, Scott Arniel, and Darryl Williams all relieved of their duties earlier this month, the focus has moved to the new coach. It’s more than just a new voice in the locker room, though. It’s about a new system that will get the most out of the roster. We can’t predict what the roster will look like in October, but we can at least guess what the impact of a new system will be.
Perhaps the best example to use regarding a new system is Dan Girardi. Way overpaid and completely lost in AV’s system, the Rangers cut him loose to free up cap space. He has found life in Tampa Bay, improving on basically all of his puck possession stats while being used in a more passive system. Jon Cooper has certainly gotten a better version of Girardi than his final few years in New York.
Cooper’s defensive system is very simple, running a hybrid zone/overload system that is designed to be aggressive in spots, but dial it back when needed as well. There is less chasing, and more relying on positioning. In the defensive zone, it is less about skating ability and stretch passes and more about gaps, lanes, and shorter, quicker passes for a breakout. As you can imagine, we’ve seen guys like Girardi and Anton Stralman succeed there.
When it comes to the new system, it needs to be simple enough that the guys on the ice know where the others are going to be –something that was clearly not there the past few years– as well as sophisticated enough to draw on the talents of the roster.
Eyeballing what the projected roster could be, the Blueshirts look to be focusing more on players who have sound gap control and positioning while also being strong puck movers. Kevin Shattenkirk is their only elite puck mover, but guys like Brady Skjei, John Gilmour, and Neal Pionk are more than capable at making short, quick passes to start the breakout.
That brings me to the forwards, who were told to fly the zone for the stretch pass and counterattack. Those days are likely gone, and they will be hanging around in the defensive zone longer to provide support and outlets for their blue liners. It likely means more puck possession, but less rush based action. They will be significantly more boring to watch, but hopefully more responsible.
It’s almost impossible to quantify how a new system will impact the Blueshirts, mostly because there is significantly more work to be done when it comes to quantifying possession to system (I’ve tried and failed many times). What we can do, though, is infer how a more responsible and controlled system will impact the team.
For the young players, we should assume that they will be more comfortable in their roles. All of the skaters should know where the others will be on the ice, so this should lead to fewer turnovers and missed assignments. Ideally, this leads to a huge decrease in both CA and SCA, which in turn should make the goaltending predictability a little better. It’s amazing what a new defensive system can do."How much impact will a change in system make for the Rangers?",