Vigneault picks shaky time for even mild Lundqvist criticism

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Look, on one hand, it would probably be cowardly for New York Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault to skirt all questions about his team’s struggles.

Still, with upper management avoiding the “Fire AV” debate altogether while discussing a looming rebuild, you’d think that Vigneault would walk on eggshells, particularly when it comes to Henrik Lundqvist.

The New York Post’s Brett Cyrgalis passes along some interesting quotes from Vigneault on the team’s goaltending, which while not necessarily inflammatory, might not sit well with Rangers fans who already want him fired:

“I believe that we’re a goaltender getting on a roll here to being back in the hunt and back into the playoffs,” Vigneault said. “We started our season 4-7-2 and we were a little inconsistent in the goaltending department. I felt we were playing better than our record indicated. Goaltending got better, we went on a [18-7-3] run. Came back from the bye week and since that time, we’ve been on a [3-10] run. A little inconsistent in the goaltending department.”

When you look at Henrik Lundqvist’s split stats, you can see that he’s experienced some rough months in October and now February, yet the overall picture is … well, handsome.

You could argue that such ups and downs fall on the netminder, yet could it also come down, in part, to the play in front of said netminders?

If you’re Vigneault, wouldn’t it be better off to say something vaguer, like “we’ve been inconsistent as a team?” Is it really wise to single out your goalies, particularly one who makes $8.5 million per year and is respected as one of the most consistent in the NHL?

You’d think comments like these won’t silence the whispers about Vigneault.

Management spoke of the team losing “familiar faces,” with speculation regarding any number of players being traded as part of a rebuild. There are even murmurs about Lundqvist being moved, possibly in part to spare him that process.

Maybe Vigneault knows that he might not be part of such rebuilding plans, either?

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.