The New York Rangers have struggled so far in the 2013-14 season. With tonight’s loss, the Rangers have lost four of the last five games and now have a record of 15-17. Though it is still relatively early in the season, the Rangers appear flat on offense and unorganized on defense. New York had these same problems last year under John Tortorella, but the signing of new head coach Alain Vigneault was supposed to be the solution.
Initially, it was tough to blame the players for having difficulty adjusting to Vigneault’s system. The majority of the Rangers’ team was around when Tortorella was still the coach. Under Tortorella, the Rangers operated within a much different system than Vigneault is currently putting in place.
Torts asked his players to jump in the shooting lanes. He wants them not to play the player, but to play the lanes in which the player is attempting to move the puck. Tortorella made his players believe that blocked shots and intercepted passes would start the breakout.
Under Vigneault, the Rangers are being told to play the body of the opposing skater. Wingers play tight on the points. Defensemen work in the corners and start the break out by forcing turnovers. This system worked well with the Vancouver Canucks. However, Rangers’ players often look hesitant and uncomfortable when put in the position to make a decision.
With time running out on the season, it is time for the Rangers players to fully invest in Vigneault’s system. Yes, the Rangers made it to the Eastern Conference Finals while playing under a much different system. However, as is shown every night in the NHL, there isn’t only one way to win. Vigneault’s system got his Vancouver teams further into the post-season than Tortorella’s system ever got the Rangers. If these Rangers can’t adjust soon, expect big changes to come in the Big Apple.