That word was used most often during the first couple of days of training camp last week when Rangers players were asked to describe the mood around the locker room since camp began.
The players are excited to get back to work after a too-long summer that began with a first-round playoff loss to the Devils, but they also seem excited to be playing for new coach Peter Laviolette, who was hired in June after the departure of former coach Gerard Gallant.
Laviolette has been coaching a long time and has had plenty of success, including three trips to the Stanley Cup Final and one Cup triumph. So he has major credibility and he’s seen it all.
He is going to give the Rangers something they’ve apparently been craving: Structure. Along with maybe just a touch of urgency.
“I think that the players want to be pushed,’’ Laviolette said on Friday. “I think all players want that. I think teams come into the year and they have a thought process of becoming Stanley Cup champions . . . I think that there’s a process that goes with that.’’
Rangers captain Jacob Trouba, who played for Laviolette on the U.S. team at the 2014 World Championships, said he likes the energy and enthusiasm the coach has brought to start camp.
“I think it’s great,’’ Trouba said after Friday’s practice about life under Laviolette. “There’s a little direction, I think, that is good for us . . . I think early on, he’s given us the tools that we need to be successful this year.’’
Much was written about Gallant’s perceived inability to make in-game adjustments when things weren’t going well and of his loose structure. Laviolette believes in having a system, even if he’s not inclined to break it down for outside observers.
“Do most coaches come to New York and put their system in the New York Post?’’ he said to reporters on Friday when asked to describe his system.
But playing fast is a big part of what he wants, and to that end, Friday’s practice was conducted at breakneck speed.
“When you watch the teams that find success, they’re pushing the pace, they’re pushing forechecks, they’re pushing pucks with speed,’’ he said. “They’re quick to defend. Everything has a pace and speed to it.’’
On Saturday, Laviolette installed some of his defensive principles, such as the neutral zone trap that Mika Zibanejad had said he was most curious about.
“I know we had a lot of problems with that against their team [in Washington, where Laviolette coached last season],’’ Zibanejad said. “So it might be nice to be on the other end of that and frustrate other teams through the neutral zone.’’
Bonino switches it up
After Saturday’s practice was over, centers Nick Bonino and Filip Chytil worked with assistant coach Michael Peca for a few minutes on faceoffs. Each player took turns taking draws with Peca dropping pucks. For the last round, Bonino, a lefthanded shooter, switched hands on the stick and took a few draws righthanded.
“Over the last year or two, I’ve done it more and more,’’ Bonino said. “The guys are so good on faceoffs that, as a lefty going into the right faceoff dots against another lefty, [the opponent is] on their strong side. Their percentage is much better on that side. And for me to win on my forehand, or win on my off-side, the percentages are low. So I guess the thinking is trying to have two strong sides.
“It’s a little bit different, but it seems to have worked,’’ he said. “I don’t know my actual number, but I feel like [taking draws righthanded], I’m probably around as much as I win going just normal lefty on my right side.’’
Bonino, a career 49.9% faceoff man, said he got the idea to switch hands while playing for Nashville (where he played under Laviolette). Former Nashville teammate Paul Gaustad, a career 56% faceoff man when he played, was doing it, and Bonino said he and teammate Calle Jarnkrok started trying it in practice.
“My first time [trying it] in a game . . . I snapped it back hard, like into the glass, because it hooks on your [curved] blade and it goes,’’ he said. “I think maybe, if I’d lost that one, I wouldn’t have done it as much. But winning that one, at the very least, I get a chuckle from the guy across from me when I flip my stick over. So maybe it throws them off.’’
Laviolette said he places great value on winning faceoffs. That is one of the reasons he hired Peca, a respected faceoff man during his playing career, as an assistant coach.
“There’ll be instruction with faceoffs,’’ Laviolette said. “We’ll be teaching and working on it. It will get some attention.’’
Rangers open with Bruins
The Rangers will begin their preseason schedule Sunday in Boston against the Bruins (5 p.m., MSG).
Laviolette said players who aren’t playing in the scrimmage will stay behind and have an intrasquad scrimmage at the practice facility.