Recap: Alain Vigneault’s Comments Today (On Benoit Pouliot and the Defense Playing Better)

Alain VigneaultAlain Vigneault, via MSG, met with the media today after Rangers practice:

  • “we are playing a style that is permitting us to win some games and be in every game. We are doing that by being committed at both ends of the rink. Our defensive play as far as scoring chances given up on 5 on 5 or shorthanded has really improved over the last 5 or 6 games and that hasn’t stopped us from stopping quite a chances the other way. To the contrary, because we are being real sound in certain areas it has allowed us to counter quickly and create some quality chances. We aren’t finished the way I would like to, but I think we are doing all the right things and it’s just a matter of getting some confidence, getting some bounce luck and we will be alright.”
  • On puck possession being better, “we’ve definitely, we are looking at, to our team and to our players, you can make these plays and sometimes the plays a direct play, sometimes it’s a chip and you skate onto it and its the same as a direct pass. Our players are applying that more and executing better and when you do that you have more time with the puck.”

  • On incorporating advanced stats with players, “No…I find it useful to us a little bit in that it’s information that we can take and digest, for players I think it’s overkill. With the amount of videos and different meetings, whether it be PP, PK or 5 on 5, with the amount of meetings that we have, whether it be by line or individual we do a lot of that. Combined with, every player has an app where they can just punch in and see all of their shifts, so that is probably the best tool that they have to look at themselves and see how they are doing. If there are any questions I have coaches who are there to help them all the time.”
  • On individual teaching, “I really believe that there are some team concepts that you do with the group but I really want myself and Ulfie to work with the defense and Scotty or Dan, and just like Ben is doing with the goalies, coaches especially my assistant coaches need to work one on one with certain guys going through anything from 5-10 shifts, making sure they understand things, why they made that read when it was the right read, why they might that other read and this is what you need to do. If they can do that instinctively I think they will visualize and see it quicker and make the better play on the ice. We are going to continue with that and it’s always the way that I have done it.”
  • On the defense getting better, “they are just playing better. They were just off a little bit and that happens in an 82 game schedule but they are playing better, they are skating better, moving the puck when they are supposed to move it and skating it when they are supposed to skate it and finding their game right now.”
  • On the Eastern Conference, “that’s a tough question, I would rather give myself a few more go-arounds since I didn’t see the East last season. The West I know well and I think we can all say that there are some powerful teams there in terms of how they play. Before saying the East is one way or the other I think I need a few more times around.”
  • On Benoit Pouliot, “He hasn’t shown consistency here yet either. I’ve had this conversation with Ben and I have had it with a few players in my career and you only get so many kicks at the can and only so many teams. A  guy like Ben, high pick, high skill level and you see it now and then and you go wow, why…I don’t know if you want to call it the inconsistency, why is that not there on a more regular basis. That is a question we are trying to work on with him. That is a question that he is aware of and he needs to figure it out because you only get so many kicks here. The guy that comes to mind to me is Chris Higgins. I remember when I had Chris and he walked in my office, he had just gone through four teams, it was his fourth team in a year and a month or two and I said Chris this is it, you’ve only got…and I told him what he needed to do on the ice and what he needed to do off the ice and he figured it out. For whatever reason I caught him at the right time and at that time with his maturity he has figured it out. Now he has become, in my opinion, one of the best and most dependable two-way players that I have seen in a long-time. I am hoping that Ben is at the same stage in his career. You see guys, they don’t figure it out and then you don’t hear about them anymore. Hopefully he will figure it out.”
  • Is he aware of this “stigma” about him, “he better be because I’ve told him…I’ve been very very direct and…Ben you need to figure this out here. I mean, the high end skill and…it’s not from game to game…it’s from shift to shift. He needs to, in his preparation in his sitting on the bench and getting ready for the next shift and figure it out. If he figures it out here he will have a good career. If he doesn’t I don’t know how many kicks you get at it.”
  • Is he better suited for a different role, “In my opinion he is top-nine, some guys definitely need to play in the top-six because they can’t defend. Ben can defend and he can skate well enough to help out our D. He has a tremendous amount of attributes and a tremendous amount of upside and he needs to put it together and he has had a few teams lately and hopefully for his skate he will and for our sake because we need him to play consistently.”
  • On his focus, “He’s…in French we say , that means goes to the moon. I’ve told him this a couple of times. I don’t know why it happens. You explain things to him, you explain  a drill to him and he does it once, he does it twice and the third time it’s like ‘Ben what are you doing?’ and then it’s ‘oh yea.’ He has to put it together and I think he can. I have seen too many stretches where he has done it. He needs to do it and figure it out.
  • Have you ever coached a game with three brothers on the ice, “no…no…I’m sure it will be a lot of fun for Marc and I am sure he is looking forward to it.”
  • On how he managed things out West, “I think basically what I did and what we did, players and coaches, you just try to be yourself. My job as a coach is to work on help them becoming the best that they can be. I’ve done that for a few years now and I have a pretty good idea of what works and what doesn’t and I have a pretty good idea after a certain amount of time of how players react when you treat them one way and how they react when you treat them another. It’s an on-going process that will go on and get better.”