Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Vigneault's Defensive Scheme Under Question After Rangers Horrid West Coast Trip


The New York Rangers have given up 20 goals in their last three games, put their backup goaltender on waivers, and will limp in to Washington to face the Capitals on Wednesday. So, what gives?

Is this just a bad start from a team that is going to eventually right the ship and make a push to be one of the top teams in the newly formed Metropolitan division, or are the Rangers in big trouble? Could it be the the Rangers actually miss their irascible, controversial former coach John Tortorella, and because they miss him so dearly, they haven't been able to warm up to Alan Vigneault?

 Reports are that the Rangers are having difficulty adjusting to the coaches' defensive scheme, which calls for more active patrolling of the corners by pairings, instead of keeping one d-man in front of the net at all times. According to NY Newsday's Steve Zipay, the scheme might have a lot to do with the Rangers' struggles thus far this season. "Some of the fault lies in new coach Alain Vigneault's scheme, which asks two defensemen to hunt in the corners, battle, recover and start the transition or clear the puck out of danger," writes Zipay. "A center often is deployed in front of the net." If this is the case, it's not only the d-men that have a new system to adapt to, it's also the Rangers' centermen.

 It's early yet, but the Rangers top six defensemen a combined minus-31, something is obviously not working. The Blueshirts minus-16 goal differential is by far the worst in the NHL after five games.

 The Rangers, 1-4, will look to right the ship in their sixth consecutive road game on Wednesday, when the take on the 2-4 Capitals.