The Rangers got it right with Peter Laviolette

It was very easy to point and laugh at the New Jersey Devils last night, firing head coach Lindy Ruff after letting Andrew Brunette walk and extending Ruff. As Ranger fans, we saw what was coming. Ruff had never been a defense-first coach, and the defense failed the Devils. The team was also poorly constructed, relying on horrible goaltending.

Were all the problems because of Ruff? Absolutely not, and blaming him for everything is a fool’s errand. Losing Dougie Hamilton was a major blow, along with the goaltending. But team defense had been a major problem all year, and it was something we highlighted as a major weakness of Ruff’s while he was in New York.

The Rangers and Devils did have some similarities. They both had elite level skill at the top of their lineup that put them in the upper echelon of offenses in the league. Injuries to key players impacted both teams –Hamilton, Jack Hughes, Adam Fox, Filip Chytil, Kaapo Kakko, plus others for both teams– and could have derailed both teams.

Don’t forget, the Rangers went through a 6-8 week span where Igor Shesterkin looked like Akira Schmid out there.

Yet, the Devils are floundering and the Rangers are a Stanley Cup contender. Coaching seems to be laughed in some circles, with coaches mainly there to manage personalities. This is a wildly irresponsible take, as systems matter. It’s something we’ve been beating to death since the Alain Vigneault days. Systems matter. Getting the most out of players matters.

The Rangers, thanks to a strict system of limiting high danger chances against, sometimes at the expense of offense, has them as a top-5 team in the NHL. The Devils didn’t have that structure, instead choosing to trade rush chances with horrible goaltending. We saw how that worked out.

It’s a tale of two teams: The Devils were the winners of the offseason and a Cup favorite. The Rangers were losers and a bubble teams. But that’s why you play the games. Both teams have dealt with major injuries. The difference is with the coach. The Rangers got it right with Laviolette. The Devils got it wrong with Ruff. Sometimes, it’s as simple as that.


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