Look, Alain Vigneault, I know coaching a professional hockey team is hard. On your best night, you’re still playing against another top professional team with a world class head coach in opposition. And this is the Stanley Cup Playoffs! So everything is amped up, or so we’re constantly reminded. The game goes by in a whirlwind. One moment you’re up by a goal with just over a minute left to play, on the cusp of taking the first two games on the road in a best of seven series, then the next you’ve put your worst defenseman on the ice, the puck is behind an angry Henrik Lundqvist and you are 17 seconds away from heading to an overtime loss to tie the series. So in the future, maybe…you know, don’t do that.
That doesn’t help you much heading into an [insert dire catch phrase] game four on home ice, though. You know that already because you sat Nick Holden in shame for game three after setting him up for a spectacular fail, and then your team pretty much up and quit on you on home ice in the next tilt to go down two games to one. One of your assistant captains lied straight into a TV camera after that one, offering, “maybe we tried too hard”.
#NYR Stepan: "I thought we struggled, everybody to execute. Certainly, it wasn't lack of effort. We were almost at times trying too hard."
No, you didn’t, Derek Stepan. Last night’s 3-1 loss was trying for a lot of fans in a myriad of ways, but only Lundqvist tried too hard.
There are many Xs and Os that might help. There are lineup tweaks you can make in both available personnel and who plays with whom. The team could certainly use some motivation. So I’ve reached out to my fellow writers here to get their takes on what you can do to improve the team’s chance of winning tomorrow night and keeping the season from reaching the brink. My only instruction to them was to work independently, so if you find some repetition, then that’s probably an important area to consider.