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Vigneault: Rangers’ D has underwhelmed… except for McDonagh

Dec 5, 2013, 4:05 PM EST

McDonagh

To hear Alain Vigneault explain it, New York’s blueline has been disappointing this season, save for one guy: Ryan McDonagh.

“The only one on D, in my opinion, that has really not only has played up to expectations but you see a lot of upswings with is [Ryan] McDonagh,” Vigneault told the New York Post on Thursday. “All of the other guys, I think, have better to give.

“We’re going to need them to give better.”

Vigneault’s critiques of Michael Del Zotto are well known (see here if you don’t know), but to hear him roast the rest of the blueline is new… though not entirely surprising.

Defensively, the group has performed reasonably well — but offensively, it’s given New York almost nothing. Marc Staal and Anton Stralman — both of whom have appeared in all 28 games — have combined for just two goals and six points this season. Dan Girardi, known as a defensive defenseman, is scoring at his usual clip (five points) but hasn’t stepped up in the wake of Del Zotto’s struggles. Neither has John Moore, also stuck on five points.

What seems to be bothering Vigneault is a lack of competition among the group. He bemoaned a lack of push to usurp McDonagh (who has 16 points in 28 games, and averages nearly 24 minutes a night), Girardi, Staal and Stralman from the top-four. Moore has been close on occasion, but has also been a healthy scratch at times. Vigneault does see some upside, however.

“The one that has proven that he is the closest is John Moore,” Vigneault explained. “John had maybe a little patch of more difficulties the last few games there, but he is a very young player with in our minds a tremendous amount of upside.

“If anybody would show us they deserve to play ahead of [our top four], I’d give them the ice time but nobody has really come up and played better than those guys.”

  1. steelers88 - Dec 5, 2013 at 4:18 PM

    The one thing about tortarella is that his a defensive minded head coach. When the Rangers were playing under Torts they were one of the best defensive teams in the league. Now that Vaniguant is the head coach is the head coach he is more of a offensive head coach I think it’s the system that is flawed not the players.

    • stakex - Dec 5, 2013 at 4:34 PM

      You know the funny thing about that? In reality Torts was always an offensive minded coach before the Rangers (his moto in TB was “Safe is death”), and Vigneault was at his core a defensive minded coach in the past. In fact, the Canucks originally hired Vigneault due to his defensive minded style. Sure the Canucks were a more up temp offense under Vigneault, but they also had a lot of firepower to make it work… and that wasn’t Vigneault default coaching style. .

      So I’m not exactly sure why Torts was so defensive minded with the Rangers (perhaps the lack of offensive skill we are seeing now had something to do with it), and I have no idea why the Rangers brought in a defensive minded coach to push an offensive system. Its like the Twilight Zone.

  2. stakex - Dec 5, 2013 at 4:27 PM

    Seems strange that a defensive core that’s been one of the best in the league over the last few years is suddenly playing collectively mediocre. I wonder what has changed since last year…… I just can’t put my finger one it.

    I’d also point out that if Torts called out his entire defense like this, the internet would have blown up with “Torts hates his players” rants.

    • johnstone17 - Dec 6, 2013 at 8:14 AM

      Statex, I think the ” D ” men are still adapting to AV’s idea of jumping in offensively & recognizing when to do it. Just a thought.

  3. steelers88 - Dec 5, 2013 at 4:28 PM

    It seems strange to me to. I think it’s the new system that’s messing up not the players.

    • johnstone17 - Dec 6, 2013 at 12:22 PM

      Steelers, I think by the time they reach the Olympic break, the defense as a group & the team as a whole will be playing more consistent hockey.

  4. xdj511 - Dec 5, 2013 at 4:32 PM

    Wow, the “anti-Torts” does something amazingly Torts-like and publicly calls out his players.

  5. canucks30 - Dec 5, 2013 at 4:35 PM

    Vigneault threw Ohlund, Mitchell, Mathieu Schneider and others under the bus in Vancouver too

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