If you have been a New York Rangers fan in the past decade, you know that they have had a difficult time scoring goals. In fact for a long time the team depended on Henrik Lundqvist along with their exquisite defense in order to win low scoring games. The past few years however have been different. Even though new players are coming in and out of the locker room, the team seems to be doing something that before 2014 was seen as inconceivable, score a lot of goals. In fact the New York Rangers have scored four or more goals in 19 of their 42 games, winning all of them. When New York Rangers score this season they win.
However, after the exciting five to four last second win on Saturday against the former New York Rangers “great” head coach John Tortorella I got to thinking, “why have the New York Rangers all of a sudden become this scoring machine?” It can’t be the players because in recent years there have been a ton of new faces, including Michael Grabner who scored a beautiful game winner against John Tortorella and the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday night. So I started to think about the head coaches of the teams and looked up some of the statistics. I wasn’t shocked to find that under Alain Vigneault the New York Rangers scored more goals statistically per game than they did John Tortorella. In fact the numbers weren’t even close.
Vigneault John Tortorella
Season R GP TG GPG Season R GP TG GPG
2016 2nd 42 144 3.43 2012 16th 48 126 2.63
2015 7th 82 233 2.84 2011 11th 82 222 2.71
2014 3rd 82 248 3.02 2010 16th 82 225 2.73
2013 18th 216 82 2.16 2009 16th 82 219 2.67
(Information from https://www.sportingcharts.com/nhl/stats/team-goals-per-game/)
*R- Rank in the NHL for goals per game
*GP- Games Played
*TG- Total Goals
*GPG- Goals Per Game
As you can see, aside from Alain Vigneault‘s first season as the team’s head coach where they ranked 19th in the NHL in goals per game, the team has finished no lower than 7th and in the top three the other years. He has changed the philosophy of the team from that of John Tortorella’s. This should come as no surprise either as in three of the last four years that Alain Vigneault coached the Vancouver Canucks from 2009-2012 his team finished in the top six in the league for goals per game. Where John Tortorella finished 28th, 8th, 18th in goals per game between his time coaching the Vancouver Canucks and the Columbus Blue Jackets from 2013 to 2015. However, in the current 2016-2017 season he has the Columbus Blue Jackets ranked 3rd in the league at 3.33 goals per game, still behind Alain Vigneault’s New York Rangers at 3.43 goals per game. Clearly, aside from the 2016-2017 season Alain Vigneault has clearly been better at getting the team he coaches to score goals.
When John Tortorella was the head coach of the New York Rangers he emphasized a shot blocking and a slower game. A lot of analysts and fans didn’t like this because it did not allow for a wide open high scoring approach. You can see from the statistics from his years as the New York Rangers coach from 2009-2012 that was exactly the case. The team although was highly successful for the most part did not score enough goals. This came to a head when the favored New York Rangers who had finished 1st in the Eastern Conference earning 109 points during the regular season (they finished two points behind the Alain Vigneault led vancouver Canucks) lost to the New Jersey Devils in six games during the Eastern Conference finals. People blamed the loss on the New York Rangers lack of ability to score goals mainly because of John Tortorella’s coaching style.
After the season ending series loss John Tortorella was fired. The New York Rangers then hired Alain Vigneault and oddly enough Alain Vigneault’s former team the Vancouver Canucks signed John Tortorella. Alain Vigneault has changed the style of play the New York Rangers played with and for a few years with mainly the same players the team has scored many more goals per game than they did while John Tortorella was the coach. Alain Vigneault has seen a lot of success with the New York Rangers taking them to a Stanley Cup and an Eastern Conference finals in two of his first three seasons, with the fourth looking like it could be the best yet. On the other hand John Tortorella was fired by the Vancouver Canucks after two seasons and finally in his second season with the Columbus Blue Jackets looks like he has figured out a formula that allows his team to score more goals per game.
Looking into all of the numbers one thing is for sure, the coaching change from John Tortorella to Alain Vigneault is what led to the massive change in goals per game for the New York Rangers. Even though some players have come and gone and the roster has changed somewhat over the past four years, the New York Rangers continue to score goals and when they score goals, it’s proven that they win. Alain Vigneault was the answer to the problem and has proved that the critics of John Tortorella during his time with the New York Rangers may have had a point. All Alain Vigneault has left to do is continue his high-powered offense this season and hopefully prove that it is offense and not defense that will bring the New York Rangers their first Stanley Cup since 1994.