NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — New York Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault sees a lot of potential with this year’s Rangers team.
Vigneault told WFAN’s Mike Francesa Wednesday afternoon that “there’s a tremendous amount of potential” heading into the season.
“I believe we’re a playoff team and I also believe once you’re in the playoffs that any one of those 16 teams can win,” he said. “I think it’s important as a team as the season goes on we improve. Teams that improve make it to the playoffs and once you’re there our chances are as good as any team.”
Vigneault believes fatigue might have been a factor in last season’s first-round playoff exit against the Pittsburgh Penguins. The previous four seasons before, the Rangers played in the Stanley Cup finals, two Eastern Conference finals and one Eastern Conference semi-final.
“The theory is that it finally caught up to most of the players. I do think it was a factor. I felt that part of our inconsistency last year was that we were never able to get quite to where we needed emotionally, mentally and physically. Probably the fact that we played a number of big playoff games, does have some wear and tear on the guys and a lot of our players weren’t able to in the summer quite heal the way there were supposed to from nagging injuries that they had. They weren’t able to train as much as they probably would have liked to,” he said.
Vigneault continued, “If you look throughout other teams in the NHL, it’s happened to L.A., it’s happened to Chicago, it’s happened to Boston, and it might’ve caught up to us a little bit last year. But this year, so far, both mentally and physically, our group of players – and I don’t know if it’s because of the extended rest in the summer, the longer training, or just the fact that we have so many new faces on our team – but our group right now is in a real good place mentally and physically.”
Listen to the entire interview with the Rangers head coach below.