UPDATE: Pat Leonard and various other sources have confirmed that Vigneault has signed to be the Rangers next head coach. There is no word on when a formal announcement will be made.
On the same night news surfaced that Alain Vigneault was in New York today to meet with Jimmy Dolan, news also broke that Vigneault has turned down the head coaching job in Dallas. While there hasn’t been any official word from the organization, many of the usual suspects in the media (e.g., Larry Brooks, John Shannon, Bob McKenzie, etc.) have put two and two together and are expecting Alain to take over.
I normally don’t put much stock in “hockey insiders” who aren’t in my cellphone, but McKenzie is reputable. One of the few in my opinion. If the reports are accurate, the meeting between Alain and Jimmy are likely just a formality. When this will be officially announced is uncertain, but it appears Alain could be offered the job very soon.
We’ll continue to keep everyone updated on this story. For now, it looks like the writers of this website — except for myself — may get their wish.
Oh Bylsma, what could have been…
Keep Boyle or try to trade him?
When Dave and the staff here at Blue Seat Blogs first conjured up the concept of “Stay or Go” posts, they were originally meant to be for current roster players on the verge of free agency. Although Boyle isn’t a free agent this offseason — his deal is up next year — I think it’s worth discussing moving the big fella given our cap issues and some of our roster needs.
By no means am I part of the “Boyle is too soft” crowd, nor do I think we need to acquire players with reputations for taking guys heads off, as some have suggested. No, the bottom 6 help I’m looking for should resemble what you’ve been watching in Boston, LA, Chicago, Pittsburgh, even Ottawa. If you watched those teams closely, there’s a noticeable difference in foot speed between those respective team’s bottom 6 guys and that of our own. We are just too damn slow and Boyle exemplifies that point.
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If he wants it, there are certain things he will need to do (Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images).
Since Tortorella’s firing last week, there’s been a lot of different coaches with different systems/philosophies linked to the Rangers head coaching position. As I said last week in my Tortorella obituary post, Sather left it open as far as what he’s looking for in his next coach. Since Glen gave fans the mushroom treatment again, I figured I would at least tell you all what I’m looking for in the next Rangers coach.
To be clear, this post is not about forecasting. I’m not reading into any beat writer rumors or any of the supposed “scoop” that apparently every Canadian insider has on the position. Sather only reveals nuggets to the press when he wants to. In this instance, he isn’t revealing squat. So please spare me the sourced articles. Glen’s table is smaller than Dolan’s moles would like to believe.
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I received word yesterday when I was in a meeting and Mrs. Suit texted me asking if the story of Tortorella’s firing was true. Seconds later my phone buzzed again and it was Dave with the same news. Within minutes my phone would blow up and it wouldn’t stop all afternoon. Whatever else happened in that meeting I was in I couldn’t tell you. Needless to say, I was stunned and I wasn’t in a setting where I could get answers.
Torts was my guy and I thought he deserved another year. It’s no secret I have been a staunch supporter of his over the past 4+ seasons, probably more so than anyone else who covers this team. I’ve never admitted it on this blog, but I have met Torts away from the pressures of the season on several occasions. Every time I came away with the same impression. That’s a guy I’d go to hell and back with. He takes over a room like few others I have encountered in this business.
And these experiences played a part in why I even contribute to this site. A few years ago I was reading a lot of irrational, knee jerk reaction type stuff about Torts and the coaching discipline in general. That inspired me to dig in on the inner workings of the game and seek out experienced hockey people who would help me shed light on the x’s and o’s.
With that said, my allegiance will always be with the Rangers. Not Tortorella, not Glen Sather, not even Henrik Lundqvist. They are all just disposable heroes in the end. My one true allegiance is to the crest, the blue, red and white. I hope all of you, even those of you who frequently disagree with me remember that.
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AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt
Before I get started with our post-season evaluations, I just want to give some insight about myself and a bit of my background before we go down the road of critiquing people’s jobs and livelihoods. I have been accused with these posts in the past of being a pom-pom waver for the Rangers organization, specifically regarding the coaching staff. It’s an awkward balance trying to bring you all unbiased analysis, while simultaneously trying to respect the people that we cover.
I know from my own experiences how hard it is to break into the sports business. And I know it is even harder to stay here. The politics in front offices are fierce. The travel can be relentless — I know some random airport bars and bathrooms in this country better than I know my own city sometimes. The hours? Ask Mrs. Suit. Some weeks I’m lucky to see her at all. Thanks for your patience hun
You think Torts is tough on his players? You should have played for my father growing up. If I didn’t play well, my ass went right to the bench. I didn’t really understand it or realize what he was doing for me at the time, as I couldn’t have been older than 10-12 years old. Now I couldn’t be more grateful for learning a lesson in accountability. Though he never benched anybody else’s kid.
So when it comes time to share my perspective on the game at large, all of these things factor into the lens in which I write.
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During Tuesday night’s game, I noticed the Bruins were finding an easy way to exploit the Rangers aggressive 2-1-2 forecheck early in the first period. The Rangers just seemed a step behind making contact with the puck carrier. While I always prefer a 2-1-2 forecheck and I am glad it is the system Torts has installed, I couldn’t help but think an adjustment needed to be made. Generally speaking, when guys are a step behind, the 2-1-2 becomes very, very risky.
Anyway, so the Bruins were putting on a clinic, creating three quality scoring chances before the game hit the 10 minute mark. I started to think to myself, “Come on Torts, make the adjustment. Drop the third guy back.”
And what does Tortorella do? He makes the adjustment.
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Big picture outlook > lockout shortened season.
After the Rangers loss against Boston Sunday night, much of the Rangers fan base went into panic mode. The usual suspects came out and called for Tortorella’s head, Michael Del Zotto’s and to some extent Brad Richards, as if the loss was solely on them. We’ve been down this road before, and quite frankly, I wasn’t surprised at the fan sentiment. The stakes are high at this time of year and everyone is wound tight. I get it.
Still, despite some Rangers bloggers calling this team mediocre and overachievers (which kinda contradicts the Torts hate no?), I beg to differ. No matter what happens the next couple of games, I still believe the Rangers are closer to the Cup than most give them credit for.
Do the Rangers need to make a couple of moves this offseason? Sure. But the right core is still in place and the right coach still leads them.
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Today the Rangers look to avoid going back to MSG down 2-0. In game 1 the Blueshirts stayed with the Bruins until OT where they were out-shot 16-5, half of which was on that one power play. Although it wasn’t a great game by any means, I thought the Bruins looked very beatable. Sure they have depth and an ability to roll four lines, but at no point did I feel like any of their guys were legit threats to send us home packing. That nervousness for me just wasn’t there the way it was against the Caps, or even the Devils or Senators last year. I know that’s not much of an analysis, but that’s what the gut was telling me. Anyone feel differently?
Side note: The media has made a big fuss over Henrik Lundqvist’s losing record in OT during the playoffs. Interesting that no one is mentioning Martin Brodeur’s career playoff OT record of 12-21 (.364)
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Jim Davis/Globe Staff
For the first time since 1973 the Rangers will square off against the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup playoffs. What was once a fierce rivalry between these two teams has been dormant for decades. That is all about to change real soon as another chapter will be written in sports history between these two cities.
Putting aside the obvious narratives about the two famed franchises and their wonderful histories, the story for this series will be about each team’s present day 5-on-5 play. Neither team possesses a power play worth envying and neither team is top-heavy in the skill department ala the Penguins or the Capitals (RIP). This series will likely see complete team efforts on both sides of the ice.
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So several people on Twitterd and in the comments section here at Blue Seat Blogs asked me a question the other day about why defensemen slide on the ice to break up plays in the defensive zone. Unfortunately, I’ve been working some late hours this week and I missed those questions. Anyway, so Dave brought this issue to my attention, and I figured it would be better to write up the reasoning in a short and sweet post rather than respond to comments that are several days old.
Moving right along.
When it comes to defending two-on-one rushes in the defensive zone there’s basically two different approaches coaches teach their players.
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