Vigneault is at least saying the right things about Rangers defense


Different Rangers fans want different things. Some want to keep Alain Vigneault, while plenty of (very vocal) others are calling for his ouster. Plenty of people – biased or neutral – agree that their defense needs a lot of work.

For a considerable subset of Rangers fans, one of the greatest frustrations comes from seeing big minutes go to aging, declining defensemen, especially polarizing blueliners Marc Staal and especially Dan Girardi.

Well, Vigneault seemed to sing to that choir quite a bit as the Rangers assessed their 2016-17 season, to the point where you almost expect him to share an anti-Tanner Glass stance.

Take, for instance, a Trotzian no-comment on Girardi and Staal:

(That sound you heard might have been analytics-minded Rangers fans salivating.)

Then again, the coaching version of “actions speak louder than words” typically boils down to how they deploy players. So, if Vigneault isn’t sold on Staal and Girardi and wants to add youth to the blueline (as he said), then why are they averaging a minute-and-half more than Brady Skjei?

Well, Vigneault indicates that he might feature Skjei more often in 2017-18.

The Rangers face some big questions in the off-season. There’s also the perceived likelihood that Kevin Shattenkirk might be added to the mix, not to mention the fact that they’ve already signed Neal Pionk and Alexei Bereglazov.

It remains to be seen if all of these positive vibes carry over into next season. We’re readying for a summer where players and front office members will fill the time with optimism, with some of that inevitably looking silly in hindsight.

Still, if you have to choose, wouldn’t a fan want the Rangers to at least try to go in the right direction?