For this night, Alain Vigneault was a master choreographer. Juggling every line combination and two of the three defense pairings in an effort to “catch everybody’s attention,” the coach coaxed just the response he was seeking. “When you switch everything up halfway through the season, that definitely sends a message,” Kevin Hayes told The Post following Wednesday’s 1-0 shootout victory over the Caps at the Garden. “I don’t take it as a jab. I see it as motivation. “It kind of rejuvenates the group.” It has to be reassuring to the Rangers — who had played footloose and fancy free for so long heading into the three-day Christmas recess — that they could buckle down and play a sound game based on a defense-oriented foundation. They were in control for much of the match, and when the Caps were able to create a handful or so opportunities, Ondrej Pavelec was up to the task in turning away 30 shots. “It was not a good feeling in this room before we went off for Christmas,” said Hayes, who skated between Michael Grabner and J.T. Miller and went head-on against the Alex Ovechkin-Nicklas Backstrom-Tom Wilson unit. “We were definitely trending the wrong way.” The Blueshirts had been strafed by the Devils and Maple Leafs in the two games immediately preceding the hiatus, and had surrendered an average of 38 shots against over the final seven contests and had allowed 40 or more in five of the previous 10. Henrik Lundqvist — and Pavelec, in for two of the 10 — had been the very definition of targets.
Vigneault pushes all the different buttons to wake up Rangers
New York Post | Dec 28