Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Can Vigneault Get Rangers Over the Hump?

After the firing of John Tortorella just days after the Rangers were eliminated by the Boston Bruins, New Yorkers were eager to find out who would be behind the bench for the 2013 season. 

With many options to decide from, including former Ranger captains Mark Messier and Wayne Gretzky, the Rangers were looking to move on from Tortorella's tough love tactics and defensive system. There is too much wasted offensive talent up front for the Blueshirts and the time for change is now. 

The Rangers ultimately decided to go with former Vancouver Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault. Vigneault is known as a players coach who allows the players to control the locker room. Vigneault's Canucks teams have been known for their offense with talented players like the Sedin twins, Ryan Kesler, and Alexandre Burrows, but have also underachieved during the playoffs. Since his first season with Vancouver in 2006, the Canucks have been past the second round once. In 2011 the Canucks reached the Stanley Cup Final where they would eventually lose to the Boston Bruins in seven games.

Now the Rangers look to Vigneault, who signed a five-year deal, to lead the Rangers back to the Stanley Cup. It has been 19 years since the Rangers played for the cup, and they have been to the conference finals twice since. The burning question in New York now is can Vigneault get the most out of his players and get the Rangers over the playoff hump? 

Vigneault will inherit a highly talented Ranger team, both offensively and defensively. John Tortorella's defense first, counter second system wore down the defense and relied heavily on Henrik Lundqvist to be a stalwart every game. With Vigneault behind the bench, the Rangers will look to become a team on the attack instead of a team on their heels. But how long will it take before we really see a change in the Rangers play? 

Don't expect the start of the 2013 season to be much different than this past season Ranger fans. It will take time before they get comfortable in a new system. It will take longer than one training camp, and recent surgeries for Carl Hagelin and Ryan Callahan will keep them out through the start of the season. Fans and players alike will need to be patient this season and not jump to drastic measures if the Blueshirts don't get off to a good start or have a tough season. The talent is there, and with the change behind the bench to Vigneault the Rangers are headed in the right direction...forward. 

It may not be this season, but the Rangers will be back in the Stanley Cup Finals in the next two or three years. 

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