MARLBORO, NY – Allow me to preface today’s column by saying the contents have nothing to do with the NY Rangers beating my Boston Bruins on Thursday night. Instead, my opinions come from watching countless hours watching hockey every night and am a rabid fan of all that is vulcanized rubber. Hell, I even used to play the game so my eyes tell me all I need to know about the Rangers and why they will not win the Stanley Cup this year or perhaps even beyond that based upon the following reasons.
Getting Viggy With It
Let’s not make any mistakes about it; Alain Vigneault is – and has been – a very successful head coach. Since his time as the Vancouver Canucks’ bench boss, to the present in New York, he has won are the three President’s Trophies (given to the winningest regular season team) within a five-year span, and Coach of the Year honors in 2007. He also has seven division titles between Vancouver and the Rangers, and two trips to the Finals in 2011 and 2014.
Lord Stanley’s Cup has eluded Viggy, though, and it will continue to do so until he changes his philosophy/style of play his teams employ. Finesse hockey wins games from October through March but doesn’t get the job done in April when, during the playoffs, the ice gets smaller and every inch of open ice is contested. “Heavy” teams, namely the Boston Bruins and Los Angeles Kings in 2011 and 2014 respectively, bested Vigneault’s teams on the way to Stanley Cup victories. There was also a Bruins five-game ouster of the Rangers in 2013.
Vigneault has been blessed with all-world goalies (Roberto Luongo during his salad years and The King of No Cups, Henrik Lundqvist) and still hasn’t delivered a Stanley Cup. Why? Because as I witnessed this past week in losses to the Columbus Blue Jackets and Washington Capitals, the Rangers were simply outworked, out-muscled, and downright pushed around all night.
As Rangers fans will have you believe, it would be wise to finish in the first Wild Card spot to avoid a Metropolitan Division battle in the playoffs first round. Be careful what you wish for since it might bite you in the keester. The Montreal Canadiens and new coach Claude Julien appear to be pulling away for the Atlantic Division crown and would play that first wild card team. The Habs have a slightly better goalie in Carey Price and with trade deadline additions have gotten bigger and nastier with Steve Ott, Dwight King, and Jordie Benn. To both team’s GM’s credit, the Habs are being built in Julien’s image, which works against Vigneault’s vision.
Eight Million Dollar Man
Rick Nash, in all his splendor, outdoes Steve Austin by two million dollars. T-minus five weeks and counting until #61 does his annual playoff disappearing act. Don’t believe me? Consider the numbers, 65 career playoff games and only 12 goals from a guy who usually scores at least thirty in the regular season. Not since Barry Beck has a New York Ranger gotten so little out of a 6-foot-4 or better frame than Rick Nash.
There are other red flags (aging defense and goalie) on why the Blueshirts won’t hoist the Cup this year, but we’d be here all day. Meanwhile, Rangers fans should hope to avoid a post-season match-up against the Blue Jackets, Capitals, or even Les Canadiens. You heard it here first.
That’s it. Please comment below and come back tomorrow for Viggy Protege DJ Eberle. And please follow us on Twitter – @CheesyBruin & @MeetTheMatts, Instagram @MeetTheMatts and like our Facebook page, Meet The Matts.