With all players reviewed, and David Quinn’s report card done a month ago, it’s time to move on to the rest of the coaching staff. The Rangers had five assistant coaches in Greg Brown, David Oliver, Lindy Ruff, Benoit Allaire and Jerry Dineen. Focusing first on the assistant coaches, Oliver was in charge of the offense and powerplay, while Ruff and Brown split defensive responsibilities and the penalty kill. Allaire was obviously the goalie coach, and Dineen the video coach.
Oliver’s main job was to get the offense going with somewhat limited talent. The Rangers had just four actual scoring threats, a bunch of question marks, and then some rookies sprinkled in. Naturally with more ice time, Mika Zibanejad, Kevin Hayes, and Chris Kreider thrived. Mats Zuccarello figured it all out once he got out of his own head. It is worth noting that under Oliver, Zibanejad, the current and future 1C, had a standout year and took a huge step forward. That is no small feat and should not be overlooked.
In addition to Zibanejad taking the next step forward, Pavel Buchnevich really elevated his game, posting his first 20-goal season in just 64 games.
Aside from that, and Tony DeAngelo’s ten powerplay assists, there wasn’t much else on the roster. Jimmy Vesey broke 15 goals again. Ryan Strome shot 900% on his way to 18 goals. But that’s about it. Like I said, there wasn’t much for Oliver to work with.
In the end, the Rangers finished with 221 goals (23rd) and a 19.5% powerplay success rate (16th). I have to admit, that powerplay rate is better than I thought it would be. With only four established NHL top-six players, that’s…not bad. His true test will be how these guys develop and how the team generates offense with better players going forward.
Greg Brown / Lindy Ruff
At the risk of being incredibly biased, I’m lumping these two together and giving them the same grade. The defense was downright atrocious last season, allowing 267 goals (23rd) and a horrible 78.2% PK rate (27th). David Quinn put his new defensive system in, and after a long adjustment period some players adjusted nicely. Part of the horrid stench is on the players, since the roster put together wasn’t all that good. However there is a ton of blame on the stubborn coaches.
The biggest issue is the insistence that Marc Staal and Neal Pionk are not only a top pair, but a top penalty killing unit as well. It is no coincidence that the best stretch of the season was when Pionk was hurt and Staal played less. The use of the personnel available to them was just awful and borderline inexcusable.
Brown is equally at fault as Ruff, but I’d have to assume Ruff was the major player here. He needs to go.
Grade: Is there anything lower than an F? G? Q? L?
Did you see the year Alex Georgiev had?
I, for the life of me, have no idea what Dineen does other than the traditional definition of a video coach. Perhaps the best way to look at this is how the youngsters progressed. They are more sponges and absorb more lessons, or at least they should be. The only kids that didn’t get better as the year went on were Pionk and Brett Howden. So let’s put that on Dineen, ok? Ok.
Grade: C+, or INC. Whichever floats your boat."2019 Rangers Report Cards: The Assistant Coaches",