Kings v Rangers preview with NY coach Alain Vigneault


Raw comments from New York Rangers coach Alain Vigneault, in advance of Monday’s game vs. the LA Kings…

On sending JT Miller down after he’d played so well in the pre-season:

“In talking with both Glen [Sather, President and General Manager] and Jeff [Gorton, Assistant General Manager] about our numbers situation, we felt…[he’s] such a young player that he needed to play, and two extra forwards didn’t make a lot of sense. We’re going to play L.A. and San Jose, two big teams. I knew I was going to put Arron [Asham] in the line-up sooner or later. We felt we needed to send him to Hartford to get some games in. He played today and I heard he scored two goals, a real good start for him.”

On if Miller looked over-matched the other night:

“Not necessarily. It was more of a numbers game. At the start, a lot of times, veteran guys will get a longer look, a longer opportunity. Our numbers were just…right now…with Ryan [Callahan] coming back, we’ve got 13 healthy forwards and I didn’t want 14. I wanted the kid to play, and cap-wise it was the right thing to do.”

On if choosing Asham was because of the opponent:

“A combination of both. We’re playing one of the biggest teams in the NHL [Monday], Stanley Cup Champions two years ago, a team that rolls four lines…they’ve got great size up front. They use their size and they’ve got size on D. Arron is one of our more physical players and we’re going to put him in the line-up.”

On if he has a ‘minutes limit’ for Ryan Callahan in mind, on the power play and penalty kill:

“I’ve made predictions before that I was going to ease somebody in, and then once the game is there and if the guy looks good, then… In his case and in Step’s [Derek Stepan’s] case, both those guys—we’re going to have to play them into shape. Not that they’re not in condition. It’s a different form of conditioning—the practice and the work off the ice and the playing…it’s a totally different intensity. Obviously, when you’re playing a game, there’s a lot at stake. There are two points at stake and we’re just going to play those guys into shape.”

On why he put Marc Staal on the first power play unit:

“I like his shot. I like the fact that he’s been able to sneak into the right holes and the right areas and make the opponents pay. I think with Brad [Richards] there, we’ve got a guy who can shoot and pass. With Marc right now, we’re giving that a look and on power play when he’s been on it, we’ve scored some goals.”

On if being in Los Angeles stirs up memories of the 2012 playoffs:

“We’ve had some tough battles in the past against L.A. Being at that rink and playing some games, it’s a tough environment.”

On if having coached in the Western Conference gives him any advantage, in terms of advice he can offer players who may not be as familiar with the Kings:

“The advantage for me now is we’re playing teams that I know. As far as preparing our team for what’s coming up, I’ve got a good handle on what’s coming. That helps me and it should help our team, but I don’t know the East yet and it’s a good thing we haven’t played them.”

On his feelings as a coach upon hearing Asham’s opinion that he’s fighting for his career, playing with desperation:

“Arron and I had that discussion before the season started. He’s at the point now at in his career where he wants to stay in the NHL as long as he can and contribute. He’s one of our oldest players, if not our oldest. He’s fighting to stay in our line-up. He’s fighting to stay in the NHL. He was put on waivers. Nobody picked him up. You have thirty teams that passed on him. Now he’s getting an opportunity to play some more and hopefully he’ll be able to come in and play well for us.”

On his expectations for Benoit Pouliot:

“What we’ve seen in spurts is a highly skilled, quick player [who has] had some good scoring chances. If he wants to stay there, obviously he’s got to be able to contribute and chip in. He’s getting that opportunity. Hopefully, he’s going to grab it. Right now, our evaluation, our assessment of our players is really limited. We had those four games in five nights where we played a lot of people with different players. We played one game, we’ve had three days in between. Now we’re going to play four games in six nights. Now we’re going to get into hockey mode. It’s going to be real good for our group.”

On the possibility of playing Martin Biron during those four games in six nights:

“In the big picture, I would say yes. In the small picture, right now I’m really focused on [the Kings]. I know Hank [Henrik Lundqvist] is playing [against them] and then we’ll take it from there.”

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