I love him…I can’t stand him
The Canucks approach the end of their sixth season under Head Coach Alain Vigneault, marking the fifth year the team will graduate to the post-season during his time as Vancouver’s bench boss.
Over this span players and fans have come to learn the intricacies of AV, embracing a calm but confident coach who understands how to get the most out of his players.
For all of Vigneault’s accolades, including a 2007 Jack Adams Trophy, the coach has his faults when it comes to handling his team on the ice.
Love him or hate him, Alain Vigneault has another opportunity to lead the Canucks to victory in the upcoming Stanley Cup Playoffs, and fans will debate these decisions with extra scrutiny for the weeks to come.
With the Sedin twins at his disposal, Vigneault has become a master of optimizing ice time in Vancouver.
The Sedins start 78% of their shifts in the offensive zone, leading the league among NHL forwards with at least 20 games played.
The Sedins’ core strength, their cycle game, is derived from puck possession in the offensive zone, and much of that is in part to Vigneault’s dedication to optimizing their ice time.
Over the course of an 82-game regular season even the greatest superstars will go through a cold streak. Part of a coach’s job is to minimize those streaks, and nip them in the bud when they do arise.
Alain Vigneault’s latest line juggling with the Sedins is just another example of his mastery with line chemistry and ability to identify when a shakeup is necessary.
Keep Calm, Carry On
Some coaches scream and shout, and some maintain their composure to calmly guide their team to victory. Alain Vigneault has always been patient with his players, pressing the right buttons at the right time while maintaining respect in the locker room.
Vigneault’s control of the media under the spotlight of last year’s Stanley Cup Finals was also impressive.
Y U No Call Timeout?
Vigneault’s in-game coaching leaves something to be desired. The timeout is one of the few tools a bench boss has at his disposal during a game, and Vigneault rarely uses his to slow a game down when necessary.
While the time to use a late-game strategic timeout is obvious, AV rarely attempts to stem the tide early in a game.
Put Me In, Coach
Not every goal is the goaltender’s fault, but at some point a message has to be sent. Once a starter is pulled out of mercy any properly proud hockey club will respond for the backup.
What Have You Done For Me Lately?
The Canucks’ bipolar performance in the first and fourth rounds of last year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs questioned the control Vigneault had over his team’s performance.
The Blackhawks dominated a large part of the opening round, and the blowouts in Boston during the Stanley Cup Finals were atrocious.
How much of that falls on the Head Coach?
I fear fans may be better equipped to answer that question come summer time.