NEW YORK, NY – NOVEMBER 01: New York Rangers Goalie Henrik Lundqvist (30) makes a save, as New York Rangers Defenceman Marc Staal (18) checks St. Louis Blues Left Wing Jori Lehtera (12) in front of the net, during the second period of a regular season NHL game between the St. Louis Blues and the New York Rangers on November 01, 2016 at Madison Square Garden in New York, NY. (Photo by David Hahn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The New York Rangers playoff hopes are looking grim. With over half the season done, there is a small chance they can still clinch a wild card spot. They are currently 25-20-5 but with the league and in particular, the competitive nature of the Metropolitan Division, this is looking more and more unlikely each game. There are many reasons why critics think so. Substantial injuries to key players have really hurt the Rangers this season, but  Coach Alain Vigneault‘s poor decisions play a big part of the Rangers season misery.

Alain Vigneault has been with the Rangers since the 2013-14 season. He had a big task ahead cleaning up from former Head Coach John Tortorella who is currently with the Columbus Blue Jackets. And for a time AV did well by the Rangers, but it’s clear his time has come. His poor decisions have aided rumors of a complete reshuffle next season, and he needs to go to prevent total catastrophe within MSG.

Vigneault Loves His Tired Has-Been Players In Key Defensive Roles.

The defense has always been a big issue for the Rangers. One of AV’s main decisions limiting the Rangers progress this season is his inability to let go of players past their prime.

Nick Holden.

Nick Holden is the prime example of this, the thirty-year-old continues on the top defensive pairing every game. Statistically,  he looks to be a competent defenceman but his highlights have proved he is a defensive liability with bad turnovers and bad man marking. In the Florida Panthers game alone, he lost the puck in his own end and Florida went on to score. He also turned the puck over with one minute and eight seconds to go and gave Florida the subsequent game-winning goal. Despite this, his Time On Ice average is 18.52 minutes which makes him third highest defencemen. Holden has only totaled nine points this season, despite this large volume of ice time. But because of this, he is still higher on the depth chart than better players such as now injured Kevin Shattenkirk, or young Brady Skjei.

Marc Staal.

Marc Staal is a similar story, the thirty-one-year-old defensemen has been with the Rangers since they drafted him in 2005. His stats since then have been slowly hemorrhaging, this season he has totaled only seven points, a career low.  Av has placed him on the second line, and he gets an average of 18.04 mins a game (just below Holden). His position on the depth chart and high ice time do not give younger fresh players the opportunity to shine.

Not Giving The Young Ones A Fair Go.

AV’s poor decision to keep certain players in key roles will ruin Rangers hopes for a spot in the playoffs. Particularly when they have such talented young potential that can give some fire back into the team.

Pavel Buchnevich

Although AV has finally given Pavel Buchnevich top line opportunity, it may be a case of too little too late.  His treatment by the head coach has been a cause for debate for many.

Buchnevich is second in total points (32), second on PP goals, fourth on the teams scoring list (13) and fourth in assists (19). These stats would be much higher but Buchnevich has been regarded as third/fourth material for most of the season so far, he receives only around 14.50mins of ice time. His individual expected goals for (ixGF) is an impressive 6.54 goals when he is on the ice at equal strength, and his skill with the puck is beautiful to watch.

Jimmy Vesey

The 24-year-old Jimmy Vesey is another young exciting player that gets overlooked. He has struggled without proper guidance and support under the Canadian coach. When placed in the right situation among experienced players he performs well. Tallying up ten goals and seven assists this season. He is just not managed appropriately, he gets shuffled back and forth in all kinds line variations. This makes it impossible for Vesey to find his role and stand out in the team.

Vinni Lettieri

Although short but sweet, Vinni Lettieri was called up to replace injured Chris Kreider. He has played ten games, scored on his debut and racked up three assists in that time. He is fast, observant and most importantly a fiercely passionate player. Another young Mats Zuccarello is exactly what the Rangers need. AV has placed him back to the AHL.

Always Look After Your Star Goalie

AV has forgotten the golden rule, always look after your goalies. Particularly when your goalie is Henrik Lundqvist and particularly because he is the only reason Rangers are still in contention. He gets hammered time and time again with easily thirty plus shots per game. He gets little or no rest time with Ondrej Pavelec as back up. He has already shown signs of exhaustion will “illness days”, this is bad coaching on Vigneault’s part

These are only some of the issues that face the Rangers right now,  it’s a sad story seeing the have so much potential there. Alain Vigneault poor decisions are one of the main reasons why the Rangers will probably not make an impact in playoffs this year.

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