Unveiling the Laviolette System: A New Dawn for the Rangers

SUNRISE, FL - NOVEMBER 30: Head coach Peter Laviolette of the Washington Capitals reacts to a play against the Florida Panthers at the FLA Live Arena on November 30, 2021 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
SUNRISE, FL - NOVEMBER 30: Head coach Peter Laviolette of the Washington Capitals reacts to a play against the Florida Panthers at the FLA Live Arena on November 30, 2021 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images) /
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Explore Peter Laviolette’s game-changing coaching system for the New York Rangers. Discover the secrets behind his tactics for the season.
The New York Rangers and their new head coach, Peter Laviolette, have been the talk of Broadway lately. Laviolette even joked about previous Rangers coaches sharing their systems with the NY Post!

When the Rangers decided to part ways with Gerard Gallant after a disappointing playoff loss, there were whispers in the organization that he didn’t have the right system to deal with the lightning-fast New Jersey Devils.

There weren’t enough adjustments, and his ones didn’t help either. It’s why the Rangers have a new coach despite back-to-back 100+ point seasons.

So, as we gear up for the 2023-2024 season, the Rangers are learning a new style and structure under Laviolette. He’s known for favoring an aggressive, fast-paced hockey style that ensures both forwards and defensemen get in on those scoring opportunities.

Peter Laviolette’s Tactical Twists:

Laviolette has some interesting thoughts on defensive pairings. He said, “I understand the philosophy of having a good, anchoring defenseman paired with an offensive-defenseman to push the offense. But sometimes you have your top line in the offensive zone, and you want to put out two guys that think more offense. Conversely, you might be in the defensive zone and want some guys who think more defense.”

Now, let’s talk about Laviolette’s fast transition game. He pushes the defenseman to move that puck up the ice quickly. They also need to know when it’s their turn to join the attack. Off the rush, he loves it when four men are active.

An example can be extracted from Jack Han’s latest edition of “Hockey Tactics” from last year when Laviolette was in Washington. “Forward 1 and F2 look to create a small-area 2v1 on a controlled entry.

F3 (WSH8 Alex Ovechkin) stays wide as a one-timer threat off the entry. Defenseman 2 (WSH9 Dmitry Orlov) sprints to the middle to create a second offensive wave. D1 (WSH3 Nick Jensen) is the last man back after making the initial DZ retrieval, leading to an exit. He sprints to stay connected to his teammates and to be gapped up in case of a turnover.”

“Laviolette also likes a 2-3 offensive zone forecheck system. The 2-3 forecheck is effective against teams that struggle to make plays off DZ (Defensive zone retrievals). F1 and F2 double-team the puck carrier or pressure the Ds man-on-man to prevent a lateral pass. D1 pinches down on a rim to the half wall. F3 starts wide and surfs across.”

“The 2-3 is less effective than a 1-2-2 against teams adept at breaking through the middle. F3 starts too far away to pressure a pop pass or a D middle activation. He would have to back off and accept the rush alongside the Ds.”

SUNRISE, FL – SEPTEMBER 27: Head coach Peter Laviolette of the Nashville Predators talks to linesman Bryan Pancich #94 during a break in action against the Florida Panthers during a preseason game at the BB&T Center on September 27, 2016 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
SUNRISE, FL – SEPTEMBER 27: Head coach Peter Laviolette of the Nashville Predators talks to linesman Bryan Pancich #94 during a break in action against the Florida Panthers during a preseason game at the BB&T Center on September 27, 2016 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images) /

With the puck, Laviolette likes to see his defensemen getting active. It’s all about a 2-1-2 formation. Defensemen might pinch at the blue line, join in on the rush, or even cycle down low. They’re expected to be more involved in the offense. It’s exciting news for an offensive-minded defenseman like Adam Fox.

“The sense of direction I think is good for us,” Captain Jacob Trouba said. “Already in the first practice, we’re going over offensive zone ideas. We went through systems up and down the ice with video. [The players] have to implement it, but he’s given us the tools to be successful this year.”

Now, the neutral zone. Laviolette emphasizes tight play in this area. He usually employs a 1(First forward pressures puck)-3(2 forwards, a Defenseman)-1(Defenseman. It’s similar to what the Los Angeles Kings do.

Aside from the 1-3-1, he’ll also deploy other looks depending on the situation, per Jack Hahn’s book “Against Set Breakouts: 1-2-2. After a failed OZ FC: 1-1-3, F3 tracks the middle. After a change-of-side: 1-1-3, F3 tracks wide.”

The coach wants New York to be aggressive, force the issue, and not give the opponent any easy plays. It can affect the game’s tempo and who controls the offensive zone. Most coaches refer to this area as the “Fast. Zone”.

Defensively, Laviolette prefers controlled zone entries on offense rather than relying on dump and chase. However, Laviolette tends to play a more conservative game with a lead, switching to a 2-3 lock.

“It’s a lock (system) where you are hanging back a little bit more,” Brendan Schneider said . “It’s going to be some time to get used to it.”

K’Andre Miller also chimed in.

“The biggest thing I guess in the D-zone for me is staying a little bit tighter, staying close to the net, with everybody more compact so you have that little bit more comfortability with support and moving pucks to guys who are maybe five-feet away instead of seven, eight-feet away from you up the wall,” he said. “So that’s probably the biggest thing, the comfortability of feeling where everybody is and supposed to be.”

On special teams, Laviolette has some preferences. He likes the umbrella Power Play, which focuses on moving the puck quickly to create shooting opportunities.
On the penalty kill, it’s a hybrid system, and defensemen must be ready to block shots, minimize shooting lanes, and make quick decisions to clear the puck out.

Laviolette isn’t just about tactics; he’s also into player tracking and analytics. He adapts his strategies based on his team’s strengths and the opponent’s weaknesses. So, no one-size-fits-all approach here.

As the Rangers embrace Laviolette’s system, it mixes freedom and accountability. There’s a learning curve, but the potential rewards promise more exciting Rangers games in the future. So, watch the Blueshirts as they gear up for an exciting season under Coach Laviolette!