Rangers coaching staff to look at different options throughout training camp

New York Rangers center Mika Zibanejad (93) celebrates with goalie Igor Shesterkin (31) after a 5-2 win against the New Jersey Devils in game six of the first round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden
Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

Peter Laviolette and his coaching staff plan to use training camp as a way to see different forward line combinations and defensive pairings when the New York Rangers start on-ice activities Thursday.

New York Rangers head coach Peter Laviolette addressed the elephant in the team’s locker room in his first training camp presser on Wednesday. Laviolette answered crucial questions regarding the team’s new defensive pairings and line combinations, while also giving insight on the development of key players transitioning into new positions. The Rangers’ new man behind the bench is bringing in a new era of coaching at Tarrytown.

Rangers conduct off-ice training

The Rangers conducted off-ice training on Wednesday at the Tarrytown Training Center. Players were evaluated by the coaching and medical staff as they participated in multiple exercises.

“My eyes are wide open,” Laviolette said Wednesday from the MSG Training Center. “The staff’s eyes are wide open. Come in here and take what you want – push for what you want – and I’m sure we won’t miss it.”

Rangers players receiving new opportunities

Laviolette had said he would give players opportunities but it would be up to them to earn it when he was hired last summer. It appears that opportunity was already given to LW Alexis Lafreienre.

“I did have conversations with him. It’s not like I did it blindly, I had conversations with him about playing the offside. He expressed to me that he’s comfortable with that and looks forward to that opportunity. I’m looking forward to giving it to him to see what he can do. Again, that doesn’t mean that you’re not going to see him on the left side in camp.”

Mollie Walker

Laviolette stressed that Training Camp is a way to find your identity and gain confidence that can be carried into the regular season. Confidence is something that staff will need to work on as the Rangers are looking to rebound from a first-round playoff loss that saw the team blow a 2-0 series lead and lose confidence in themselves and previous head coach Gerard Gallant.

Taking a look at new defensive pairings

It is also interesting that the staff will also look at different options with the defensive pairings. Jacob Trouba-K’Andre Miller and Adam Fox-Ryan Lindgren have been the top pairings since Millers’ arrival in 2020. The coaching staff wants to move pairings around as he is going to do with the forwards to see who plays better as a unit.

“I’m inclined to try something new at camp,” Laviolette said. “You can understand that there’s some success there, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t try something different, as well, and see how that looks.”

This year’s training camp has a purpose

The team is led by a coach who has had success with previous teams. Laviolette is not looking for just a skilled team or a hard-working team, but a combination of both. Laviolette is seeking a team primed to become one full unit on the ice, capable of taking the squad to a deep playoff run.

In years past, training camp has been something to get the players on the ice and in shape for the regular season. This year’s camp has a purpose.

Line combinations, defensive pairings, position swaps, a search for identity, and confidence. 58 players will be on the ice for the start of camp Thursday morning. Eyes will be on the Rangers to see what the players individually and collectively bring to the ice to contribute to the team.

This might be the most important training camp in the last 30 years for the Blueshirts; one with purpose and direction.

Follow Frank on X at @RangerProud

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