Three reasons to be concerned with Alain Vigneault’s coaching

AV(September 28, 2014 - Source: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America)

AV(September 28, 2014 – Source: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America)

It is very difficult to question a coach that has won as many NHL games as Alain Vigneault. His success with the Rangers makes it even more ridiculous when you consider in less than 3 years he has won the Presidents’ Trophy and a trip to the Stanley Cup Final. Still, there are things that just make you scratch your head at times.

3. Benching J.T. Miller (AKA: ice time for younger players)

J.T. Miller has zero points in his last 8 games. So maybe the benching against the Islanders was coming. However, instead of maybe moving him to the third line with Eric Staal who was hot against the Islanders to get him going, he was dropped to the 4th line and skipped some of his shifts. He totaled a little over 6 minutes in a game where his size and physicality was needed.

[su_quote cite=”NYPOST” url=””]“I think in an 82-game schedule, you’re going to have the odd game here or there that’s going to be more challenging,” Vigneault said after Monday’s practice, preparing for Tuesday night’s game against the Sabres at First Niagara Center. “J.T. has been a real good player for us and I’m sure he’s going to play a good game for us [Tuesday].”[/su_quote]

Why is this a concern? Because we are in March and he’s still trying to teach younger players lessons by holding their ice time hostage. It is something he dares not do with veteran players making for an obvious double standard. AV is stubborn, but he needs to find better ways to get his stallions going this late in the year.

2. Playing Eric Staal with Viktor Stalberg and Oscar Lindberg

Staal (Getty)

Staal (Getty)

It took 4 games but Eric Staal has finally broken through on the scoresheet. It took place when Oscar Lindberg scored in the first period against the Islanders on Sunday. That was Lindberg’s first goal in his last 22 games. Anyone else see a problem there?

Vigneault told the media yesterday about Sunday’s late line combos (specifically Hayes moved up and Miller moved down), “I wouldn’t put too much emphasis on what we saw with the lines, except I’m not going to break up the Eric Staal line”. Ok, maybe (I hope) he’s waiting for Rick Nash to get back so he can pair them together as any level headed coach would. Still, this is AV and he may just slot Nash with Stepan and leave a former 100 point center playing with the two “Icebergs”.

I mean, we’ve seen how long it took him to give Keith Yandle more PP time right? Watching Eric play with Lindberg and Stalberg is like seeing a brand new Corvette doing 30 in the left lane on the highway. He needs to play top line minutes.

1. Utilizing Timeouts and Late Player Deployment



In two of the three games this weekend I felt AV could’ve used a timeout a bit sooner just simply to send a message and stem the tide. Against Pittsburgh after their 2nd quick goal a timeout may have slowed down the Pens momentum and prevented the third tally. Same with the Islanders in the first period, after their 2nd quick goal a stoppage may have helped. Instead he called it after they went up 3-0.

The other issue is rolling all 4 lines regardless of score. I’m sorry, I like Tanner Glass but he should never be out there with less than 2 minutes defending a 1 goal lead. Also, with the addition of Eric Staal, you have 2 centers (Dominic Moore) that should take all late face-offs draws in the defensive zone.

Why he let Derek Stepan, the absolute worst face-off man we have take that late draw against the Islanders with Moore on the ice is beyond me. Simply baffling.

So there you have it, 3 things we should all be keeping an eye on as the Rangers inch closer to post-season action.

Agree? Disagree? Comment below.

Anthony Scultore has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL since 2014. His work also appears at... More about Anthony Scultore

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