Rangers coach Alain Vigneault on Tuesday took responsibility for the middling performances of his team’s power play and penalty kill.
“Specialty teams right now, we’re having some issues,” Vigneault said. “That’s on me; I’m the one that signs off on everything.”
The power play is ranked 17th; the penalty-kill has sunk to 24th.
“We’re just a little slow on the execution,” he said. “A good penalty kill is usually four guys working together, pressuring at the same time; right now we’re two, two and a half, three guys. We’re working on that.”
Vigneault is a cautious supporter of Yandle
Keith Yandle, an unrestricted free agent in June who could be a valuable asset before the Feb. 29 trade deadline if general manager Jeff Gorton decides the Rangers cannot sign him, received a cautious endorsement from Vigneault. “At this point he’s one of our six defensemen,” he said. “When Yands is on top of his game, he’s a very good player. I’d like him to be a Ranger and help us win.”
Yandle, who arrived from Arizona last season in a multi-player exchange that included prospect Anthony Duclair, has been playing on the third defense pair and on the second power-play unit. He has two goals and leads the team in assists with 21, but has shown some defensive liabilities. Yandle, 29, is in the final season of a contract that pays him almost $5.5 million annually, but half of the salary was picked up by the Coyotes.
Center Derick Brassard was sidelined with flu symptoms and missed his first game of the season . . . D Kevin Klein, who missed the Capitals game Sunday with an injured thumb, returned, and Dylan McIlrath was a healthy scratch . . . Vigneault is a fan of the coach’s challenge, which began this season: “What you want is the right call to be made,” he said, “and I think that permits you to get the right call. There’s a lot of goals that have been offsides and been called back; the goalie interference, I’ve seen so many that could go both ways . . . [but] I’m all for it.”