Rangers coach seized moment against Avalanche, recognized ‘time to win’

NHL: Boston Bruins at New York Rangers
Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

Though the New York Rangers didn’t officially lock down their latest win until Vincent Trocheck scored the winner in the shootout Thursday against the Colorado Avalanche, their coach made a decision earlier in the game that helped pave the way to victory.

And in so doing, Peter Laviolette proved yet again what an important part of the Rangers’ success he’s been this season.

With the score tied, 1-1, Colorado’s Zach Parise was whistled for holding Artemi Panarin on a drive to the net at 8:47 of the third period. Seeing that his top players, including Panarin, Trocheck and Adam Fox, were all gassed after a long shift, Laviolette called timeout so that they’d be somewhat refreshed to begin the power play with the rest of the No. 1 unit.

There was no strategy discussed during the timeout. Simply, Laviolette recognized his top players needed the chance to regroup before a critical moment in the game.

Many NHL coaches would have kept the timeout in their back pocket, perhaps waiting for the “right” moment later in the game. Or they would never have used their timeout at all.

But Laviolette read the situation perfectly. That shouldn’t come as a surprise because he’s pushed pretty much all the right buttons during his first season as Rangers coach.

“We were scattered with shifts at that point, we had a couple guys that had extended shifts,” Laviolette explained. “There’s half a period left. That’s a time to win the hockey game.”

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Peter Laviolette made key decision to help Rangers defeat Avalanche 3-2

NHL: New York Rangers at Colorado Avalanche
Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Laviolette’s decision paid off. The Rangers took their first lead of the game when Chris Kreider scored a power-play goal at 9:35. A revived Panarin set the play in motion and his shot deflected off Trocheck right to Kreider who was all alone by the crease. He batted home his 299th career goal to give New York a 2-1 lead.

“Our power play was excellent,” Laviolette said. “Great movement. Great job … two guys in front, off ‘Troch’ first and then ‘Kreids’ on the back post.

“Those are important moments in the game and we just wanted to make sure we were fresh going out there.”

That’s the feel Laviolette, a veteran of over 1,500 NHL games coached and 801 victories, has for the game and for his team. And it came up spades for the Rangers in this instance.

The Avalanche did come back to tie the game at 12:47 when Ryan Lindgren inadvertently pushed the puck under Igor Shesterkin’s pad and over the goal line after a Devon Toews shot. However, Shesterkin was a hero the rest of the way, finishing with 38 saves and two more stops in the shootout.

And Panarin and Trocheck took turns scoring for the Rangers in the shootout to finalize the 3-2 win, their League-leading 49th this season.

But the coach’s fingerprints were all over this win, too. This time in more ways than simply how prepared the Blueshirts were or how well they defended against the highest-scoring team in the NHL or how disciplined they played within their system and structure.

Laviolette recognized it was time to seize the moment and made sure the Rangers did just that.

Jim Cerny is Executive Editor at Forever Blueshirts and Managing Editor at Sportsnaut, with more than 30 years of... More about Jim Cerny

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