NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE
1926 ~ MEMBER ~ 2016
NEW YORK RANGERS: Jeff Gorton Spent Off-Season Appeasing Alain Vigneault's Unyielding Need for Speed.
If in any way Monday's effort against a (usually bigger) Western Conference team served as an early indication, then spending yet another off-season trying to increase team speed may yield Lord Stanley's approval yet.
Fans filed out of Madison Square Garden elated their New York Rangers disposed of the visiting San Jose Sharks by a 7-4 final. A particularly inspired effort from Chris Kreider, and yes, collective speed, that which coach Alain Vigneault values so much, served as the main impetus for victory.
You must know I'm being kind, because there will be no pom-pom waving from me. I have little faith in Vigneault, his system, and his preferred style of play to begin with, then seethed over the pre-season scuttlebutt regarding a potential trade of Dylan McIlrath.
So what better way to way to join the fray than on the night Dylan made his first start of the 2016-17 regular season.
As we know, McIlrath only started as a result of Dan Girardi's injury. And be sure, this will not be Girardi's last injury of the season. He's put in a lot of hard and much appreciated time manning the blue line, but it started catching up to him last season, if not earlier.
Then I look at Marc Staal. Fan favorite, right? Too bad he never comes out of the corners with the puck. I'm not trying to be intentionally or overly critical, but let's be honest about his situation. We all realize Staal is one big hit away from another lost season, or worse, a potential end to his career - and he plays that way.
Dylan McIlrath has played well defensively during his limited ice time, while providing a big, strong, physical presence around the net, and passing the puck back up ice as smartly as Alain Vigneault can expect.
Yet, spanning a few years now, Alain Vigneault continues finding little use for him when the blue line required his presence most. Coach's bias towards McIlrath is clear. But the man is a good defenseman, rendering Vigneault's varying justifications indefensible.
It's ponderous to me, though, as Alain Vigneault was a defenseman as a player. He knows what it's like when forced into turning your back (and retrieving pucks along the boards) with onrushing forwards bearing down.
Don't forget this...
Coach Vigneault tells the media one thing, but then conducts his team in a different manner.
I said it before, and I'll say it again. His system is great for the regular season. The Rangers will indeed make the playoffs. It is then, however, his philosophy, style, and system, all fall apart like wet toilet paper.