Rangers: How Laviolette’s new coaching style is already bringing much needed change

New York Rangers left wing Brennan Othmann (78) and New York Islanders left wing Ross Johnston (32) battle for control of the puck in the third period at Madison Square Garden
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers are well underway with training camp and the preseason, as opening night is just ten days away. Newly hired head coach Peter Laviolette has gotten his time to analyze his team and get himself prepared for the upcoming 2023-24 campaign.

The firing of previous HC Gerard Gallant came somewhat unexpectedly, as the Rangers practically cleared their bench following an early exit in the 2022-23 playoffs. There was some initial concern with Laviolette being the next coach, as he seemed eerily similar to Gallant on paper.

However, after a few weeks of watching this new system in place, there are some solid effects from Laviolette’s work.

The Rangers will be playing with much more accountability in 2023-24

Perhaps the biggest change from Gallant to Laviolette comes in the form of how the coaches react to poor performances. Throughout Gallant’s tenure, there was little passion shown by the players. The entire 2022-23 post-season run felt like the players were forced to be there, not because they wanted to. There were low levels of passion and dedication, star players were underperforming, and Gallant made little effort to fix the problem.

Laviolette has already shown that he will hold his players accountable and increase the effort that the Rangers must put out on the ice this season. The Rangers currently have a record of 1-3 throughout the preseason, and the fourth game against the Islanders was by far their worst performance.

The Rangers quickly fell to a 4–0 deficit, and although there was a strong comeback attempt late in the game, Laviolette still was furious by the team’s performance. He had strong words following the game, expressing his thoughts on the Blueshirts’ lackluster efforts.

“Not the start we wanted, rally at the end,’’ Laviolette said with a flat expression. “It was not good — at all. There’s just way too much missing in the first period. Mildly better in the second but not good enough, and then in the third period we decided to work and compete .?.?. That’s unacceptable, the first half of that game. It’s not who we are or who we want to be.’’

Peter Laviolette via Newsday

Rather than applauding a more solid second half, Laviolette is choosing to focus on what needs fixing. Not letting issues be swept under the rug is what the Rangers need, as it’s been seen in the past just how quickly these minor problems can snowball into season-ending factors.

Players will not be allowed to continuously get away with poor performances, and the Rangers will be held accountable for their bad play. It’s safe to say that the Rangers will likely play with a much quicker and driven start in the remainder of the preseason.

Conditioning will bolster the Rangers’ abilities deep into the season

Another massive change is how Laviolette is treating practices so far throughout preseason. They are fast-paced and very physical, setting up a stronger and faster team for the 2023-24 campaign. There has been a negative trend with the Rangers in recent years where the team seems to lose significant energy late in the year.

This is another contributing factor to poor playoff performances, and Laviolette’s conditioning will hopefully fix that. Earlier today, the Rangers partook in one of the longest practices in a while:

This new practice style from Laviolette seems almost reminiscent of the infamous Miracle on Ice, where strong physical conditioning produced one of the greatest teams in the history of hockey.

This is a much-needed change for the Rangers, who have been more crafty and quick rather than big and aggressive. This is the style of play that will take a team far in the playoffs, and Laviolette seems to be the man to bring that change.