Quick primer on Gerard Gallant’s systems
Following the hiring of Gerard Gallant, the questions came in about his systems. Gallant hasn’t coached since the middle of the 2019-2020 season, which seems much longer than it actually is. Seriously, 2020 was a disaster, wasn’t it?
Anyway, the best primer we have as of now is what Gallant ran in Vegas and in Florida. A grain of salt is required here, as it’s been over a year and the roster construction is different. This Rangers roster has far more high-end skill than both teams Gallant has coached prior, and that may impact his approach to this team. We won’t know for sure what Gallant runs until we see it in action next season.
Gallant is pretty straight forward on the forecheck, running a 1-2-2 that he uses both aggressively and conservatively based on score and game situation. The 1-2-2 is exactly what it sounds like, with F1 in deep and F2/F3 reading the play around between the tops of the circles and the blue line. The defensemen are usually in the neutral zone. This is the same system that David Quinn ran, but don’t be fooled by that, as the 1-2-2 is the most common forecheck.
Where Gallant differs from Quinn is both adjustments and neutral zone play. When aggressive, you’ll see F2 and F3 step up in the offensive zone if they make the right read. Assuming they are successful, the defense will join in quickly as part of a quick strike offense. Think Alain Vigneault’s counter attack offense. You’ll see the Rangers be much more aggressive in stifling the rush, not allowing speed through the neutral zone and stepping up at the blue line. This is much more efficient at the NHL level for stopping offensive chances against.
Don’t confuse conservative with passive either, as the Gallant had his guys back off with a lead. That meant more clogging the neutral zone and standing up at the blue line. This forced more turnovers and again created a counter attack offense.
The forecheck and neutral zone play will be the primary thing to focus on when we see Gallant’s Rangers take the ice. Watch how they play through the neutral zone and where they stand up to rushes against. Quinn gave up the blue line by design, deciding to step up at the tops of the circles instead. Gallant will have that moved up to the blue line, possibly the high-danger zone between the tops of the circles and the blue line.
Gallant again went with a less is more approach to the defensive zone in Vegas. Alain Vigneault ran a weird hybrid overload/man coverage. Quinn dumbed it down with a very simple 2-1-2 zone in the defensive zone, ensuring defensemen don’t chase beyond the dots, and release to the forwards at that point. It was effective when the players followed him.
While I’m unsure if Gallant will use a 2-1-2 skater setup, expect a similar zone style defensive zone structure. This is where buy-in and enjoying playing for Gallant comes into play. I’d venture a guess that Gallant will go with an overload/low zone collapse, which again is relatively common in today’s NHL.
NHL teams aren’t really creative anymore. Expect Gallant’s powerplay units to rotate between a 1-3-1 and umbrella, but the key will be they actually rotate instead of just standing around. I’d also expect Gallant to actually put a shooter on the other off-wing. That would be nice.
On the penalty kill, Gallant does like to be aggressive, and he ran a diamond force in Vegas. Here’s a good video on it:
But to reiterate, all of this is what he ran in Vegas. It’s logical to assume that these are the same systems Gerard Gallant will run with the Rangers, but we won’t know until they hit the ice. Many things change, and for the Rangers the loaded talent may mean Gallant adjusts a bit to fit his players.