Vigneault: We Were Forced to Play a Stupid Schedule

When the Rangers took a 1-0 lead in their Eastern Conference semifinals match-up against the Penguins, not a peep. After Pittsburgh tied the series at 1-1, Alain Vigneault refused to use it as an excuse. But last night, after a lackluster effort put the Rangers behind in a series for the first time this post season, the Rangers head coach acknowledged the elephant in the room…

“We tried real hard. We were forced to play a stupid schedule, five games in seven nights, and I’m real proud of how our guys handled it.”

…when John Tortorella wanted to take the pressure off his team, he placed it on himself. It looks like AV’s strategy is to drop it squarely on Bettman’s head. Bravo, Vigneault. Bravo.

…and while there’s an absolute truth to what AV is saying, you can be sure his only motivation was to make the story today and tomorrow about the schedule. Not Rick Nash being scoreless in the playoffs. Not his power play nearing historic ineptitude. And, not his team playing with the urgency of a regular season game Monday night.

…both Torts and AV are to be commended for an outstanding job deflecting away from their team’s poor performances, but the Rangers current head coach deserves additional praise for taking it a step further by including an optimistic tone instead of taking a page out of the former one’s book by saying his players “stink.” Instead of alienating his players, AV is rallying them around an “us against the world” mentality.

…my one concern is that AV has become too consumed with head games lately. From indicating that Stralman wouldn’t be placed on the power play the day before inserting him on the extra man unit, to waiting till the team is on the ice for the opening face-off in Game 3 to reveal his line-up, to now complaining about the schedule a day before imploring that his team wasn’t tired. I’d rather he be completely focused on fixing the power play or hypnotizing Nash into thinking every game he plays is in Columbus.


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