In hockey, it typically takes a team between 10 and 20 games to learn a new style of play. After 10 games, the New York Rangers have struggled mightily to adapt to new head coach Alain Vigneault‘s system.
Starting off with a 3-7 record, the Rangers have struggled to score goals and have looked lost defensively at times. Under previous head coach John Tortorella, the Rangers’ identity centered around tight defensive play, shot blocking and great goaltending. While they continue to show a tendency to block shots, the tight defense and great goaltending have lacked thus far.
What’s more disturbing has been the team’s level of battle, especially in losses. In the Tortorella era, the team battled hard for 60 minutes, win or lose. In blowout losses to the San Jose Sharks, Anaheim Ducks, and New Jersey Devils, the Rangers appeared to display a total lack of effort. It also seemed as if there was a lack of accountability amongst the players which is a disturbing sight for fans.
There is nothing wrong whatsoever with Vigneault having a calm, collected demeanor on and off the ice, but whether you are a disciplinarian or a players’ coach, it is still important to lay down the law with your players and establish order within the clubhouse. Although we are not inside the locker room, the public perception amongst fans is that there is a lack of structure and cohesiveness among the Rangers’ roster.
The Rangers’ problems, however, are not only a function of lackadaisical efforts. This team has suffered injuries to their best forward, Rick Nash, their captain and heart and soul, Ryan Callahan, and one of their best role players, Carl Hagelin. Their franchise goaltender, Henrik Lundqvist, has struggled and battled injury. Their top defensemen, Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi, have not played well.
Playing nine games on the road to begin the season did not do the Rangers and Vigneault any favors. Some improvements have been seen on the defensive side of the puck and the team’s battle level during the last portion of the road trip. The offense, however, is still sputtering. Part of this is because of injuries, and part of it is the lack of scoring depth.
While you can blame Vigneault for a lack of accountability and for not having his team prepared for some games, it is not fair to pin all the Rangers’ struggles on their new coach. The time to start truly evaluating him is when the entire roster is healthy and on the ice at the same time.
Matt Stillwell is a New York Rangers contributor for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @MattNYR12 for all Rangers news and notes!