Like most hockey coaches, Alain Vigneault believes that a good defense is the most important ingredient of a good offense.
The Rangers’ head coach shared his thoughts today on his team’s current form, and how everything starts with coming back hard to defend.
“I think the biggest thing about our game right now is we defend well, in the sense that all our forwards are coming back real hard to the house and real quickly, permitting us to outnumber the opposition,” said Vigneault. “And then when we get the puck, it’s just north-south real quick.
“To tell you the truth, it’s not a lot different than my first or second year, if you remember we were one of the better five-on-five offensive teams, even last year as far as scoring. But defensively last year, I don’t think we were as committed to coming back as quick as we possibly could, and getting on the other team and trying to take their skill and their speed and their quickness away.”
Indeed, the Rangers (7-3-0) are off to a rollicking start. Their past two outings have seen them blast Tampa Bay, 6-1, and embarrass St. Louis, 5-0. After 10 games, they boast the NHL’s top offense, averaging four goals per game.
“That’s a hell of a team,” Blues coach Ken Hitchcock told reporters Tuesday. “They gave us a hell of a lesson. They are playing great team hockey and they just exposed any weakness we had. They exposed it. They’ve done it to a few teams.”
Tonight, the Rangers host the Edmonton Oilers, who are off to a pretty good start themselves, thanks in large part to a former Blueshirts backup. Cam Talbot has started all 10 games for the Oilers, going 7-2-1 with a .932 save percentage.
“When Hank was out for close to two months, Cam came in and played extremely well,” said Vigneault. “I think that’s where he found the confidence in himself to know that he could be a No. 1. That summer at the draft, we gave him the opportunity.”