YELLOW KNIFE, CANADA – With the NHL Semifinals still raging, the New York Rangers made their first big signing. Gerard Gallant will be behind the bench next season. Gallant has plenty of experience in the NHL with stints as coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets, Florida Panthers, and Vegas Golden Knights. He also has experience with developing young players from his time coaching in the Quebec Major Juniors.
Gallant should be a good fit for the Rangers, who need to balance their superstars with their young talent. It was clear that there was a disconnect between David Quinn and the team’s stars last season. He never quite figured out how to balance the stars like Panarin and Zibanejad with the young players. And as a result everyone suffered. The youngsters Kaapo Kakko and Alexis Lafreniere didn’t develop as one would have hoped. It seemed to be a wasted opportunity to blood Lafreniere.
Things should be different under Gallant who has plenty of experience dealing with stars. He will also hopefully make the Rangers a tougher team. The Blueshirts struggled last season against any team that was even remotely physical. Next season should bring toughness and stability to the lines with Gallant behind the bench.
In the meantime…
The race for the Stanley Cup is raging. The reigning Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Islanders at the Mausoleum last night to take a 2-1 series lead. This series will likely go seven games. I think Tampa will edge the Isles and go back to the Stanley Cup Finals. But it could go either way.
Game 3 of the other semifinal is tonight between the Las Vegas Golden Knights and the Montreal Canadiens. The series is knotted at 1-1 heading into tonight’s tilt at the Bell Centre. Coming into this series I figured the Knights would make quick work of the Habs, but the Canadiens pulled out a solid win in Game 2 Wednesday night to even the series. On paper the Canadiens look outmatched and I got the feeling that the only reason a Canadian team made it this far was because of the COVID realignment guaranteeing a Canadian team would be in the semis. But with Wednesday’s win, the Habs are in a best-of-five series with home ice advantage. The Bell Centre won’t be the same with only 3,500 fans instead of the usual 20,000 that would be there in normal times. But you will be able to hear and feel the fans that are there which could give the Habs an advantage.
Speaking of needing an edge, come back tomorrow for Short Matt, who is always on edge. But first, feel free to comment below.