CoachingHockey Tactics

Adjustments Alain Vigneault must make to turn season around

Courtesy of AP

It is often said in the sports business that the third season in a coach’s tenure is sometimes their most difficult. Players tend to tire from the same voice. A coach’s tendencies with x’s and o’s tend to become a little stagnant and predictable for the opposition. Players end up unhappy with their roles and can sometimes lose hope in gaining more responsibilities. The list goes on.

It is at this critical juncture, coaches need to find ways to make adjustments to their system and how they manage their bench.

The Rangers seem to be hitting that lull. Their scoring chance differential at even strength is a -128. That’s by far the worst differential this organization has had since they started tracking the stat 10 years ago. Whether this is due to players tiring of AV or not is anyone’s guess. Regardless, the roster is what it is and adjustments have not been made.

Fortunately, the Rangers lucked out some wins at the beginning of the season despite not playing defense, so there is still plenty to salvage from this season. However, whether or not the Rangers turn it around comes down to one simple question. Will Alain Vigneault adapt?

In this humble suit’s opinion, he has to. We can lament certain players on this roster all we want, but at the end of the day, this is more or less the same roster that almost went to the Cup last spring and very few of those struggling are outside of their prime.

Here’s several adjustments AV should make to get more out of this roster.

1) Give More Minutes To Those Who Have Earned It

Back in October, one of the first things I wrote this season was that Yandle should assume more responsibility. Unfortunately, that hasn’t happened. He’s still getting bottom pairing minutes and second fiddle power play time.

I won’t recap that post here, as it’s pretty obvious and has been talked about to death around these parts. I will say that now, it’s not just Yandle. There are a handful of other players that deserve more.

First, let’s give Mats Zuccarello more ice-time. He’s producing almost a point per game and he’s not even in the top 70 forwards in ice-time. Brass? Same issue. He’s getting around 17-18 mins per game, while the Krejci’s and Bergeron’s of the world are getting over 20.

On defense, other than Yandle, Klein has been our best all around defensemen this season. At the least he should get more of a role on the PK, where he was a horse for Nashville. He led their D in PK time, even surpassing Weber and Suter who were playing 26 mins a night. And yet McDonagh, Girardi, and Staal are all ahead of him.

2) Accountability Should Extend To The Whole Roster

I’ve always been a fan of coaches who give and take responsibility based on performance, not a player’s resume. This was one of the things I disliked about Tom Renney and appreciated about John Tortorella.

AV’s strategy appears to be more akin with the former. It seems veterans and skill players get a hell of a lot more rope under this regime than up and coming players or depth forwards / defensemen.

McIlrath and Etem are in and out of the lineup, despite performing well and having upside. Meanwhile, Kreider coasts on the backcheck and is still racking up penalty minutes. Girardi? You get it.

3) Change Defensive Scheme 

Man-on-man coverage fits this roster like an American pub would in Mosul.

For those of you unfamiliar with defensive zone schemes, I suggest you read up on my post here, which covers the x’s and o’s extensively. In the meantime, the basis of man coverage is to stick with your check like white on rice. However, in order to execute man coverage successfully, you need defensemen who can think and skate really fast.

Right now the only defensemen on the roster that can play this style consistently are Keith Yandle (which is ironic given his limited ice-time) and Ryan McDonagh. Girardi has never been a great skater. Staal and Klein have been inconsistent at executing this over their careers. Boyle is old and spent a career in zone schemes. McIlrath is still a wild card.

Low Zone Collapse - Behind Net

The alternative is a zone defense, which means skaters defend home plate (the scoring chance area), rather than chase guys around the zone. Tortorella employed a more conservative variation of zone defense during his tenure here called a collapsing box (pictured above). However, there are other variations of zone defense that can be a little more aggressive (e.g., expanding box, triangle +2, etc.) without hanging your goalie out to dry.

In my opinion, in order for man coverage to really work long-term, there would need to be a massive overhaul to our roster. Good luck with that.

Ultimately, I don’t think these changes are that drastic and should be considered by the coaching staff. But then again this is AV we’re talking about and he has a history of not altering his approach. It would be one thing if we were losing a lot of 1-goal games, but still playing even or plus hockey scoring chance-wise, but we’re not, we’re getting smoked. Forget the results, the process is broken and needs fixing.

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  • I believe this team is too predictable, and easy to defend against. Players have certain tendencies, and the scouting in the NHL today is such that they can dissect tape on a moments notice, and adjust accordingly. How many times have we seen this season the coaches behind the bench using I-pads, they see the game on the fly!!!!!!!!!!

    The accountability factor is in my opinion the biggest issue to me. Young guys play their heart to only to be nailed to the pine in favor of old farts who wear an A because of past records. The question should be “What have you done for me lately”? The answer is nothing worth mentioning!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Tort’s ran the show like a little Hitler, this guy runs it with pamper gloves. I honestly believe he has lost the room because of his unwillingness to do the right thing, giving players, men who haven’t proven THIS YEAR to have earned the playing time!!!!!!!!!!!

    As to the system, again we are predictable, change things up some, make the game simple, because simple is easy !!!!!!! The Kreider kid is over thinking things, as is Hayes, and or Miller. Let the kids go out and play the game they know how to play, stop tinkering with the frigging lines, and chew some butts off if need be.

    AV has but one thing to do, and that should be done ASAP. Look in the mirror and see the image reflected back to him, and ask, am I doing the best job possible. If not, then make the adjustment necessary to prove that he is worthy of coaching this team to it’s rightful lace I the NHL as we know it…….If not, then be a man, and quit now !!!!!!!!!!!

  • AV is stubborn and has been since day one how many times down a goal and 3 or 4 minutes to play he has the fourth line out there . Now i love Moore’s game but he would have to do it all by himself , pass to TG go the other way , pass to Etem /Stalberg go the other way . Change the PP some ,why did we give up DuClair and a first to get Yandle least minutes played on the PP among McD and Boyle . Top line needs to play 20 plus minutes a game or which ever line has it going that night ,which you should know by the third period . Do you think Kane / Benn / Seguin / Malkin /. Crosby / would be scoting the way they do playing 15 or 16 minutes a night They are very frustrating to watch right now you can tell after the first period what the game will be at the end of the night

  • All valid ideas. And guess what, the coach could care less. And rightfully so. He has a winning record as a coach—–a very formidable resume. Whether you or I think he is being stubborn or inflexible is irrelevant. He will rely on what he has in the past—–what has given him all those fancy stars on his coaching record. The guy knows what is wrong, I’m sure he knows what has to be done. But he’s not on the ice. If the players can’t do the things that have given them success in the past—-and there’s serious evidence that some of them can’t—-then guess what? Get some new players! Unless there has been some real deterioration between the coach and the locker room; this debacle(if we want to be dramatic, and call it that), is on the players.IMO. I still say a trade is coming; and some of the names going will be substantial. The team is stale—it needs some new blood. Even if they somehow come out of this rut, and start playing better; there still is not enough on this team to get any further than last year; if that. Its starting to get late, real early this year. With the schedule easing up as it has, the time for a move is now.

    • Sorry, pet peeve, but it’s couldn’t care less. If you could care less, then go ahead and care less. If you couldn’t care less, you’ve hit the peak of not caring. 🙂

      • How clever. Childish, but clever. I’m only disappointed that you didn’t include any Corsi stats as to how many people actually care. No screen shots, diagrams, or historical tendencies? You’re slipping, Dave.

    • AV has a reputation for being stubborn to a fault, and he also has his name on the Cup as many times as your or me. I believe that stubbornness is the reason he’s coached many first place teams to disappointing finishes. I think the conviction and belief in his own approach that has made him a successful regular season coach is also the reason he refuses to make adjustments, which ultimately leads to his downfall.

      There’s no doubt AV has had a lot of success, but right now he’s just on track to be one of the all time winningest regular season coaches without a Cup. Maybe swallowing his pride and making a slight adjustment in his approach will get him over the hump? It worked for Tom Coughlin.

      • And nobody said anything about this the last year during the Presidents Trophy run, or the Finals appearance 2 years ago. ITS THE PLAYERS—-NOT THE COACH!!!

        • This coach has done far more with good but not great talent the last two seasons than any team I can ever remember following. I will say it’s primarily the players here, but the coach ultimately is the one who has to get it fixed.

          Actually, him and Gorton, because you are right, a deal needs to be made here.

          • No the team was already great and put together and so AV takes credit for what was going to happen anyway. The team had an open mind and now it has begun to shut because of his bizarre love for TG. PLAY THE BEST PLAYERS THATS ALL.

          • I don’t see how you can call the team AV inherited “great”. They were the 6th seed in the East and out in the second round in 2013. In fact, other than 2011-12, when Lundqvist basically stood on his head and won the Vezina, the four years under Torts were good but not great.

            Once AV came on board, the team improved dramatically. The thing that changed was the coach and his system. So it’s hard to understand your point here.

            Who on this roster, other than Hank, is a “great” player? I think you are really over rating the talent.

            The bizarre irony is that the two guys who you have the least use for that you seem most eager to replace (other than Glass which has become like your “white whale” obsession)–Hank and AV–are the two most highly thought of and most award winning or nominated of the group, at least among their peers and the writers that cover them. They are the two “great” elements on this team relative to other options, yet you wanted Hank benched in favor of the backup goalie in Edmonton, and you want AV out in favor of God only knows who.

            Just kind of bizarre it seems to me…

      • re: No Cup – see * … The Twins* in Vancouver and Nash* lack of scoring in two cup appearances …. or perhaps he has two rings … AV cannot put the puck in the net himself, and when the “Superstars” getting paid the big bucks do what those 3 did in those 2 series … are there things AV could have or would do different if in the same situation, very likely. But no two teams and no two seasons are alike very often if at all. Therefore you have threads like this where the “experts” can tell us what is wrong with AV or who ever the coach happens to be. Remember this, there are 30 teams, only 2 make it to the final and only one wins … no easy task … ask the 12 teams that have never won a cup some of which may NEVER win a cup. Same in NFL and MLB … more teams, bigger league, tougher the odds to win …

    • Agree……this is far more about the players not performing than it is about the coach.

      That being said, it’s his job to fix it, and I’m confident he will. He’s one of the best coaches in the league. You don’t get to that point without working through some adversity from time to time.

  • And then again anybody know which line Miller will play on tonight , properly all 3 one bad pass and he goes to a different line $tepan has to at lease try to carry the puck into the O zone once a game , you can call his game sitting at home on the sofa . $tepan to the red line $tepan shoots it in and around the boards Goalie stops the puck to the D and out of the zone , Kreidedr intercepts in center ice passes to $tepan , $tepan shoots it in and around the boards . Think maybe the players on the other team never watch video and know what he is going to do when we know what he is going to do with the puck all the time .Stepan is good at D because he keeps playing D to get the puck back and shoot it around the boards again.We do not have the forwards other then Zucc / Miller / or Kreider to go get it .Need to vent some

    • 1000%, similar comment yesterday; his game is one dimensional. It the reason it makes sense to have Fast play on that line because all Stepsoft does it fire it into the Dzone after crossing the red line. I can count on one hand the amount of times he carries it in the zone this season, forget, the last two seasons. That is a bottom 6 forward play. So overrated.

  • Good post, but I’m baffled as to why everyone thinks ice time decisions are based on play alone.

    Ever stop and think maybe Dolan doesn’t want to see $11 mil on the bench?

    And no, Etem has not played well, and I’m baffled as to why everyone in the Ranger blogosphere is hitching their wagon to him. He’s another charmin soft powder puff who turns over the puck and hesitates to shoot.

    The problem isn’t coaching; its personnel. This team is nowhere near as good as we think it is.

    • “And no, Etem has not played well, and I’m baffled as to why everyone in the Ranger blogosphere is hitching their wagon to him. He’s another charmin soft powder puff who turns over the puck and hesitates to shoot.”

      You and I are seeing the same player. I think a lot of people are trying to justify the Hagelin salary dump as more than just a salary dump. The Rangers may have been hoping that the change in scenery would do Etem good, but they got the same player who couldn’t stay in the Anaheim lineup. Gropp could be the player who determines how much of a salary dump the Hagelin trade was.

      • Have not seen anything from Etem that justifies his “potential” and the feeling that he is or will be something special.

        Hags is gone and that is a bummer. At this point, let’s hope the Gropp kid is the better part of the deal.

        If management is so afraid to expose him to waivers for fear they will lose him then I say find out who those teams are and work out a deal.

        Include him as part of a deal for Drouin. Drouin’s upside is far and away much stronger than Etem’s.

    • 100000% agree. AV did amazing things with this team (other than simply the last nineteen games) despite one legit star, the goalie. As other pieces of the delicate balance that made a winning team departed, mostly due to cap constraints, we have lost a lot of what has made us successful because those being asked to do more (I’m talking to you Kreider and Hayes) are either unable, unwilling, or at this moment not capable of doing the “more” that’s being asked of them.

      It’s the coaches job to fix this. But the issue is far more the personnel than the coach.

    • I don’t think Etem is going to turn this team around on his own, but I’d like to see more of him. Maybe he’ll fizzle out, maybe he won’t, but the kid has some skill and should be given a deeper look.

    • Correct on Etem. He’s been awful, and was a disaster vs. Florida. His seat in the press box tonite is well-earned.

    • Amen on Etem…a career minor leaguer in the making…if the cupboard is bare in Hartford with NHL caliber players it is a by-product of the cap and scouting and GM…I was not a McIlrath fan, but his competent efforts made me want to see him given a regular shot…Staal is a shadow of his talent level; McD obviously never has come back from injuries; and Girardi just broken down from years of sacrifice…love Klein
      AV is trying everything that made them the top team last season…the playoffs are always a case od goaltending and Hank just does not get you to the finish line (he has never improved as a stickhandler in a decade)…
      the team has aa brain freeze when it comes to hockey smarts…little decisions and bounces are the difference for most sports results…look at the Isles and Devils for NY hockey teams who are motivated…finally, Kreider is in a coma…ditto Hayes

  • The 3 solutions offered in this article are spot-on, in terms of how best to improve the very immediate future.

    The question is: how likely is it Vigneault will address these pressure points for the team?

    In my view, the answer is highly unlikely, due to the following:

    a) regarding accountability, is it reasonable to think a future Hall of Fame NHL coach will change in how he gets accountability from his players? To me, there is 0% chance. This is not to say our players won’t come through on there own, but that’s like asking my teenage son to decide what his punishment should be? It’s always less than optimal balance between incentives and rewards; these are the worts we have to accept or get used to with a successful coach such as Vigneault. every coach has worts;

    b) regarding defensive scheme……again, 0% chance. Vigneault is smarter than us all on discerning what the issues are with this team but his strategy for winning is first and foremost built-upon our existing defensive scheme that emphasizes regaining puck possession and transitioning quickly to counter-attack. It’s also what served Vigneault so well in Vancouver. Changing his defensive scheme nearly 3 years into the battle would be a tacit admission this group of players cannot have the level of success this sytem was designed to enable. Either a change in select players, or coach, is required for a solution;

    c) allocation of minutes speaks to the same issue of team accountability, so see a) above.

    We’re going to restructure our roster and hit the re-set button.

    Vigneault is only 54yrs old and if he chooses, has a lot of years left as an NHL coach. The Rangers are going to stick with him but, right now, we are in a mode of “doing nothing” in terms of the big picture because it takes a while to restructure a roster. We’ll get moderately better by end of season; hopefully make playoffs and make some noise into the second round. But I would not expect any material changes within our team other than player trades to address the personnel restructuring needed.

    Nash, Staal, Stepan are the Big 3 in my view, in terms of a hard cost/benefit analyses that shows they are either substantially under-performing and/or bring us the value needed to address other holes on the team. We have no depth at right-handed defenseman down in Hartford so we may have to live with Girardi as #6 through next season.

    The Rangers need, not should, NEED to go all-out to sign Stamkos this summer. Our team is desperate for a true star forward that is at a young stage of his career. Some team needs to take Nash off our hands to accomplish that but we likely need to sacrifice another not so immaterial contract.

    Again, spot-on in your article. Let’s enjoy the rest of season as this roster restructuring begins to gradually unfold. I hope Miller and McIlrath start assuming more team leadership as the roster transitions; along with getting Skjei into the lineup somehow this year.

    • Very good points AD…about AV. (I’ve been waiting to do that!).

      That being said, I’m not sure I fully agree with two elements of your premise…

      1) AV can’t and won’t adjust. I don’t know about that. A coach who has had as much success as this one understands that teams are constantly adjusting and evolving. His core philosophies may not change, but I think every good coach can and must make changes based on what is and isn’t working, as well as personnel.

      2) rebuild–I just don’t believe that we are anywhere near ready to talk about that, and I doubt Gorton sees it that way. This is a team that has had a bad nineteen game stretch. It is reasonable, in fact I’d say likely, that this group that just came off two deep runs will regroup and get it together. Will it be enough for another deep run? Who knows? It’s such a balanced league now. But I don’t think a rebuild is in the cards right now. However, when they decide to do it, that may well be the time to move on from AV. I doubt he would want to be a part of that. He came here to win the Cup, and sooner rather than later.

      • the term “rebuild” is often confused for throwing the season; accumulating prospects/picks and waiting for a young team to come good.

        I think I used “restructure” which, in my mind, is a suffering of our top assets that are declining.

        If you thought I meant something closer to the former, I actually intended the latter. I think Gorton is well aware of an upcoming need to restructure.

  • SUIT! Man, you have to post more often. Such thoughtful analysis. You are dead on. However, I fear that the man in question will stick to what he knows. It is very, very hard to change one’s ways, especially if they have led to success in the past. I don’t like the writing on the wall, but I have my fingers crossed that the front office is working hard to find a way to improve this team. It’s not going to happen just sticking with the same old game plan.

  • All suggestions have merit. It really comes down to coaching and guiding the team strengths over the oppositions weaknesses and not having your own teams glaring weaknesses exposed. As we have seen, when the opposition gets the last change (road games) the opponent gets the matchup they want and expose us on the blueline. That happens much less at home. AV needs to mix those defensive pairings and give the opposing coach tougher matchups.

    He also can’t make Nash score, Stepan carry the puck in or Hayes skate less and use his size more. Some of this is internal to the players. AV can tweak, but also he can make them accountable. The next 10 games may be for a playoff spot.

  • Obviously these are all in house answers but ultimately I think this roster was flawed from day 1. However there isn’t much trade maneuverability so these are probably what uve got

  • The biggest thing for me has been accountability (I think ice time is tied to accountability). Guys having terrible years are still getting top minutes, while a kid like McIlath can’t crack the lineup despite solid play. It’s a soft spot for the name on the jersey.

  • The Suit, you’re like the Most Interesting Man in the World of blog posting. You don’t always write blog posts, but when you do, you prefer to do a bang up job with them.

  • Suit you are the Man. You get it! Playing man-to-man in the defensive zone is exactly why the Rangers suck defensively & if AV wasn’t so cognitively rigid he would change the scheme to zone. Playing man to man with this bunch results in total havoc in the D-zone and guys left wide open. It reminds me of playing basketball when younger & we were in a zone defense. The other guard trusted no one & was always leaving his zone where the ball would go forcing me to cover his zone and the ball would promptly go into my vacated zone. Wanted to choke him. You are right, the D is not mobile enough for man to man. On the Constraint vs Open To Experience personality factor I speculate that AV would be high on the Constraint factor which relates to a propensity to rigidity and discomfort with changing one’s cognitive set. Behaviours like this make these types anxious and nonverbals show heightened anxiety after a loss. Please excuse the psychologist in me.

    • I don’t think AV will actually change his dzone strategy, as I don’t think he’s ever done that before, but he should. Will be interesting to see what tweaks he makes. He can’t sit on his hands here.

  • Absolving AV because Nash can’t score,etc. is just wrong.

    He’s the boss – he has to take responsibility.

    Instead, he does things like scratching Hayes and embarrasses him publicly. That kind of thing is ok if you’re trying to set a player straight but if that were the case, AV would have re-inserted Hayes into the line-up. He didn’t because Hayes is his (current) excuse.

    Based on their play this season, Girardi, Staal, and Boyle all deserve seats in the press box more than McIlraith.

    Guess who sits?

    If you think Slats painted AV into a corner with this roster, then why doesn’t he even use what he has in a moderately intelligent way?

    • Notice how Tom Coughlin always took responsibilty. When have you ever heard AV say he has to change & take responsibilty.

    • Dunc-

      Your point about Hayes is just flat out wrong. It’s been widely reported and observed by the beat writers who cover the team that Hayes has not been giving max effort in practice. And, it was rumored that he came to camp out of shape, and in a “connect the dots” kind of way, AV had him spend the last few days with the conditioning coach to work on a few things, so probably true.

      It’s also been widely reported that AV has tried to handle this behind closed doors, has been publicly protective of Hayes all season, but finally became exasperated and had no choice but to call him out and sit him.

      So he missed two games instead of one, and that’s bad coaching somehow? You couldn’t be more wrong if you had said today that the league will be switching to orange pucks tomorrow.

        • And that point is…what? That players that don’t give a good enough effort should be allowed to play regardless? Miller last year. Hayes this year.

          A benching in that case is what any good coach does.

  • The Defenseman need to play zone….ie a defenseman at all times infront of the net and the wingers playing Man on top with the center a roamer. I don’t know if this is a hybrid system but fact is teams T up on the point and there is no net front presence of any worth to speak of down low.
    As foe O zone we need to get into the dirty areas to screen and pick up the garbage goals. This team needs a Steve Vickers type on the top 6. Kreider can be that player. So can Miller

  • What about Drouin being available, I think he would be a great fit. A straight up Yandle for Drouin should be a no go for the Rangers but a Yandle for Drouin and a 1st would be a great deal for both teams.

  • I like your points, all of them. One more thing about #3. It isn’t just defensemen. It is also the goaltender. A more wide open defense works better with a goalie who handles the puck well. I don’t think Hank has performed as well under AV as he did previously and I suspect the system is the problem – not any decline in skill.

    As to #1, I don’t think it is going to happen. There are two schools of thought, both reasonable on the surface, that are well represented by Torts and AV. Torts wanted his best players on the ice as much as possible. AV likes to cycle his lines completely. THe rationale for the first strategy is obvious. However, AV may also have a point. A fourth line that plays twelve minutes is simply part of the game while a fourth line that plays six is not – one hopes they will play better. Meanwhile it may be that Zuccarello and Brassard can play 22 minutes a game, but they can perhaps perform at a higher level if they play only 18.

    The AV scheme is to get each player giving as much as he can while on the ice at the cost of playing Nash less and Glass more. OTOH, it is perhaps obvious that this is not working this year.

    • Ray-

      On the Hank comment, you make a valid point. Averaging the prior two seasons under AV vs the four under Torts (not counting the season when Torts came in late in ’08-’09)–

      Under AV–


      Under Torts–


      But, other than one season under Torts, the AV system has produced far more team success, so I’m not sure you can accurately say that the system didn’t work well with Hank in net, given the strong results as a team.

  • This is more of a result of bad hockey as opposed to a problem, but the Rangers NEED to stop taking so many penalties.

    2013-14 – NYR finished with the 10th fewest minors on the year.
    2014-15 – 7th fewest minors…
    2015-16 – currently 8th MOST.

  • Great post, Suit, and always nice to hear your thoughts. Here’s hoping that we can turn this thing around and make a run in the playoffs.

  • Trade proposal:
    And a #1 for…

    on the condition we sign Stamkos long term.

    • You’d have to move one of Girardi/Staal to make the cap numbers work. Stamkos is getting $10M+.

  • Megna is in the lineup tonight. Etem sits. Megna may see PP time tonight in fact. Interesting.

    Apparently, Brooksie’s sources are saying that the Rangers “are in big time” on trying to swing a trade for Drouin. Will be fascinating to follow this.


  • Suit-

    I applaud you. This is an excellent post. I do, however, think it would have been more outstanding if not for a few things–

    “We can lament certain players on this roster all we want, but at the end of the day, this is more or less the same roster that almost went to the Cup last spring and very few of those struggling are outside of their prime.”

    That a true statement. But doesn’t that also apply to the coach? It’s the same guy. Same system. The implication here is that AV is the one who needs to do better. And he does. But isn’t it up to the players to play as well as they did just eight months ago?

    As to your core points–

    1) more ice time for those who have earned it–I can see that point. But here’s the counter argument. In the case of the three struggling defenseman you mentioned, it wasn’t that long ago that they were a significant part of the reason we made two deep Cup runs. Are we so sure of ourselves, after a period of struggle, that we are willing right now to say they need to play less….today…January 5th? When Derek Jeter was something like 1 for 42 maybe 10 years ago, Joe Torre stuck with him despite massive criticism. I know, these guys aren’t future HOFers, but I think it’s reasonable for any coach to give guys he’s implicitly trusts a little more leash. Yes, at a certain point, tough decisions will need to be made. But I hardly think it’s unreasonable to believe those three can turn it around.

    2) interesting that you remember Renney and Torts in the way that you do. I remember them the opposite. It seemed to me that, by design, Renney was given a boat load of kids and played them. Torts seemed to have a very short leash with young players like Kreider, Zuc, Hags (who he once publicly said “stunk” on the PP). He seemed very loyal to his vets, until he famously turned on Richards in the ’13 Playoffs vs Boston. Ironically, that might have been the final nail in the coffin for Torts in terms of losing the room. I might not be remembering every element of the differences in Renney and Torts’ styles, but that’s my impression for whatever it’s worth.

    Not that you need my approval, but you really lose me with this statement–“Etem…in and out of the lineup despite performing well….” Now, if you had left that at just McIlrath, then you have a valid point. Etem has done nothing to earn praise or more playing time…nothing. To me, you damaged your argument there.

    I can see the point about McIlrath. He’s been good. But I also understand the rationale to stick with trusted veterans at this moment. I think most coaches make the same call–today. A few weeks from now? A month from now? Perhaps a different story. What’s wrong with giving players you know and trust a longer leash? I suspect it’s more motivating to a player like McIlrath to se how loyal his coach is. If it were me, I’d be thinking, hey, I want to play for this guy because when my time comes, then I know he’ll have my back when the rough patches come.

    3) defensive scheme–Intersesting article in the Bergen Record today written by Andrew Gross. Basically, he’s blasting all those in the blogosphere (because that’s the only place this insane notion is coming from) who think AV should be sacked right now, calling him the best coach since Herb Brooks or Emile Francis. He says its not the coach, it’s not the system. It’s the execution. And largely, that’s more on the players.

    Now, I don’t totally agree. AV bears responsibility as well, and he certainly is responsible for fixing it. But the point is, this system that you are criticizing, isn’t this the same system we had the last two seasons? It worked just fine as I recall. Now that it’s not, do we scrap the system or make sure the players execute a system that they have thrived in more effectively?

    Now, at a certain point, if for some reason, the coach feels a need to adjust, then he should. Opponents figure systems out. Adjustments go on all the time. To suggest AV can’t or won’t adjust…I’m not sure I buy that. I don’t think you can get to 1000+ games with the best winning pct other than Scotty Bowman without encountering some adversity and successfully dealing with it.

    Still, you make many valid points. Great article.

    • So to recap what was said.
      Bla Bla Bla you are wrong and I am right. Because I’m Eddie, Eddie, Eddie.

      • Of course it’s not what I said, but reading comprehension and objective thought seems to be an ongoing issue with you.

    • Eddie my man. Thanks for the post. Very fair points. As Samuel L Jackson once said in Pulp Fiction, ‘well allow me to retort!”

      1) The boat has sailed for me on Girardi. I don’t he’s ever really fit this system and now it’s becoming more pronounced perhaps due to age, injuries, or some combo of both. I’d like to see Kleiner assume more of G’s role moving forward. Staal, I’m still on the fence on since he’s been wildly inconsistent in this system over the last few years. Just my opinion though, and will keep an open-mind here.

      2) Have to disagree on Torts vs. Renney. Torts jettisoned Redden, Rozi, Drury, etc. who Renney refused to bench or reduce icetime. He gave more responsibilities to Staal, Girardi, Cally pretty early in his tenure. Stralman and Boyle both improved dramatically. Sure he lit into guys or made some public comments, as most coaches do, but he went after anyone who wasn’t backchecking, it wasn’t just young guys, it was everyone.

      For me, Hagelin, Stepan, MZA, McD, Artie, and everyone else I mentioned. aren’t what they are today without Torts’ tutelage. None of these guys were can’t miss prospects.

      3) Let me be clear. In no way shape or form am I advocating for the dismal of AV. Nor am I blind to some of the holes on this roster. However, our team is not playing well defensively and defense is the most coachable aspect of the game. I am hopeful he will make some adjustments.

      Thanks for being constructive. Much obliged.

  • Agree 100% on D system being a big challenge this season. When 3 of your top 6 D cannot play effecitiely in that system, you get problems. Henk bailed them out in the first 6 weeks while teams were getting the rust off, but since mid-Nov it has been a horror show. McD, Klein and Yandle to some extent can play that system, the others are too slow/old or both.
    Ironically, the system also makes it hard to break out as D is chasing and losing battles on the wall leading prime A scoring chances and little opps for bread outs.

  • there are so many holes where do you start Drouin is available trade yandle wouldn’t be great if Stamkos would be part of the deal. and keep miller with Brass and Zucc.

  • While this good faith effort deserves some kudos, honesty compels some criticism, mostly not because of what was said (though I take umbrage with the heavy handedness on Kreider), but rather the subject matter.

    This is not rearranging decks on the Titanic — not yet.
    It is falling into the trap of a band aid where serious care is needed.

    Youth will be served.
    Better for all to bend, buckle and break to that reality instead of fighting it.

    Trading the older vet core:
    Stepan, zuc, Brassard, Yandle, possibly Klein and Nash
    possibly also Staal and Girardi depending upon specifics too detailed for here and now
    and add picks or other considerations

    THAT is the ticket to get younger guys
    Sami V and theodore + pick upgrade from Ducks
    is just one example.

    Hope to have something over the next day or 2 will try to make available shortly.

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