At the beginning and end of every season, there is that word again — window. Unprompted, Rangers coach Alain Vigneault brought up the window of opportunity to win a championship during his opening press conference Thursday on the eve of on-ice training camp. Now in his fifth year behind the Blueshirts bench — the first coach to start there five straight seasons since Phil Watson from 1955-1959 — Vigneault knows every team only has so many chances to win a Stanley Cup. It’s hard to tell exactly when that window is open or closed, and while saying he thought this year’s Rangers team “can compete for the Stanley Cup,” Vigneault remembered people writing off the Penguins after the Blueshirts beat them in consecutive postseasons in 2014 and 2015. That happened, of course, just before Pittsburgh won back-to-back championships. “We’re in a good place,” Vigneault said. “I like our group. Nobody has talked about the window, but when we beat Pittsburgh two years in a row, who would’ve thought that Pittsburgh would have won the Stanley Cup back-to-back with [Matt] Murray in goal? “We have a good team. We believe that we can compete for the Stanley Cup.” In this era of Rangers hockey, the focus always is on the goalie. Henrik Lundqvist, 35, was terribly inconsistent last season while putting up his career-worst stats (2.74 goals-against average, .910 save percentage). Vigneault was not willing to put a number on how many games he wants Lundqvist to start, especially with unproven backup Ondrej Pavelec as a safety net. But he did make it clear he believes in Lundqvist, and with the help of goaltending coach Benoit Allaire, he should be more consistent. That process began with Lundqvist coming to camp in terrific shape. “Hank is coming in lighter. He looks — I’d like to say younger,” Vigneault said. “He looks real fit, and he’s excited about this year. I’ve talked to him about the consistency. I’ve talked to Benny and him about that exact fact.
Rangers coach drops bombshell Stanley Cup comparison
New York Post | Sep 15