As was mentioned on the blog yesterday, a concern for the Rangers going into the season is a carry over of the lack of toughness the team displayed last season.
After stating that right now there's no indication that it will be a problem (although he did say he could change his mind), Alain Vigneault added that similar to his time with the Canucks a good power play could be used to push back against opponent's physicality…
"Are we going to have a push back with our power play? I'm going to get to know this group and I think we have the potential to have a good power play. I also feel looking at some of our people, that we have size and physicality. And it doesn't have to be through fights. It's by being strong on the puck. By protecting the puck. By finishing checks when you have the opportunity."
….not everyone is going to agree with me on this, but I couldn't be more disappointed with this answer. I know AV has stated he didn't want to look at tape from last year as not to have preconceived notions about players before seeing them in person, but I think by not doing that he's missed a big reason why this team was so easy to play against last year. Lack of toughness.
…is he right by saying an effective power play will all but end teams taking liberties against Rangers players? Absolutely. But that only works when the other team is penalized. Being strong on the puck and finishing checks isn't going to deter a team from legally being physical with the Rangers skilled players. You think the Bruins are going to stop running Nash because Boyle finishes a check? LOL! At some point, there has to be a push back through fighting. Not only does that send a message to the opposition and the rest of the NHL not to mess with players such as Nash, it also builds chemistry and a sense of closeness within the team similar to what we saw with the 2011-12 Rangers.
…and it's not so much what AV said, it's what he didn't say. It would have been nice to hear AV proclaim that this Rangers team will not under any circumstances allow themselves to be pushed around the way they were last season. And if any team did, his players would make sure it would never happen again. BOOM!!!!!!
Here's AV's entire press conference…
To watch at Blueshirts United, click here.