Alain Vigneault’s history of bad starts and strong finishes

Alain Vigneault looks on (Photo by Scott Levy/NHLI via Getty Images)

Alain Vigneault looks on (Photo by Scott Levy/NHLI via Getty Images)

Early in the 2014-15 season, the New York Rangers have started poorly and below average by many accounts. At present the Rangers sit at 11-10-4, fourth in the Metropolitan division, yet still only two points back of a playoff spot and although things may seem bleak, it isn’t all bad for the Blueshirts.

To think that the season is over is quite a stretch, considering that the Rangers started exactly the same way last year. As pointed out by our main man Anthony Scultore, New York through 25 games in 2013-14 accumulated 26 points. By comparison, they have 26 points after 25 games this season.

To think of it in another positive way, it’s not like the Rangers are playing horrible hockey on a night-to-night basis. They have had some great games, including 5-0 blowout victories over league powerhouses Montreal Canadiens and Pittsburgh Penguins, who visit Madison Square Garden tonight. The Pens are hurting, playing without top defenseman Kris Letang and forwards Chris Kunitz and Patric Hornqvist. With those circumstances, it’s vital that the Rangers jump on the opportunity and get back on track in front of one of the most passionate fanbases in the league.

Marty St. Louis looks dejected in Detroit 12.6.14 DAVE REGINEK/NHLI VIA GETTY IMAGES

Marty St. Louis looks dejected in Detroit 12.6.14 DAVE REGINEK/NHLI VIA GETTY IMAGES

But you have to think about some stinkers, and I’m talking about alarmingly bad games. Take Saturday evening for example; the Rangers are on the road and take a 2-0 lead into the second period. Things were looking up, but all it takes is one simple mistake and the tables turn pretty quickly. Something as simple as backchecking.

After the game, a flustered Alain Vigneault called the forwards’ defensive efforts “lazy”. He mainly referred to Chris Kreider, who lost Riley Sheahan on the first Red Wings goal and the forwards as a group more broadly when Luke Glendening was able to smack home the rebound in the blue paint in front of goaltender Cam Talbot.

A pretty bad night overall for the Rangers it was, but now let’s talk about Vigneault and history, which shows that good things may lie ahead for New York.

While with Vancouver, Vigneault also was known for these types of starts. In 2009-10, the Canucks were 14-12 with 28 points and finished with 103 points and won their division. In 2010-11, Vancouver was 12-7-3 with 27 points and ended up winning the conference with 117 points. In 2011-12, his troops started 14-9-1 with 29 points and won the conference again. Notice a pattern yet?

And of course last year, who could forget? The Rangers started 14-13-0 with 28 points and ended up with 96 and finished the season with a magical run to the Stanley Cup Final.

The NYR advance to the Stanley Cup Finals (Getty)

The NYR advance to the Stanley Cup Finals (Getty)

This year the Rangers appear to be in the same boat. Defensive miscues, poor goaltending from Henrik Lundqvist and here they sit with 26 points, good for fourth place in the Metropolitan division. If you’re a passionate and logical fan, I would not be worried; the sky is not falling as some people are trying to make it seem (I’m positive as I just looked out my window. Yep, sky is still there).

These Rangers know what needs to done, and they know how to play the game the right way. Lundqvist doesn’t struggle for too long and you know he will do everything in his power to get back to how he needs to play. As for the team itself, things will work themselves out with time. Don’t forget, the Rangers have played with a fully healthy defense only three times this year.

There are new faces, and the team still needs to gel and come together, which should happen in the coming weeks. The league better be on high alert once that occurs because the Rangers are going to be coming down the road with all sorts of momentum.

You could call that road ‘Vingeault lane’ which after a couple of months of construction, turns out to be a beautifully paved open lane highway.

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