Discover how Peter Laviolette’s strategic changes power the Rangers’ elite defense—a deep dive into New York’s evolving game plan.
Since Peter Laviolette took the reins, the New York Rangers saw significant changes in their play style. The most talked-about shift is the 1-3-1 neutral-zone trap, but there’s more to the story than just one strategy.
Laviolette clarified that shoring up our team’s defense was a top priority. As he explained, “There are many reasons why I came into camp with a certain mindset. Part of it was just myself and evaluating the job I did as a coach and the job I want to do.”
One of the noticeable aspects of this system is that our Rangers aren’t sticking to a single script. There’s room for flexibility, as we’ve seen in different games when a second forward joins the forecheck to intensify the pressure on the opposition. As Laviolette put it, “Everything is dictated by what situation we’re in and what situation they’re in.”
Peter Laviolette’s Tactical Wizardry is Transforming Rangers Defense:
This adaptability keeps their opponents guessing and making each approach more effective. Per Mike Kelly of NHL Network, the Blueshirts boast an elite defense this season. Through seven games, they lead the league in allowing the fewest shots per game, with just 24.9 finding their way to our net. Our defense also protects the slot, conceding only 9.7 shots in the house per game. We rank second in cycle chances against, holding it to just 6.9, and they’re sixth in expected goals against with 2.46.
The true goals-against average is a remarkable 1.86, ranking second in the league. It’s all the more impressive considering that Vezina Winner Igor Shesterkin has yet to hit his stride, and backup goaltender Jonathan Quick has been turning back the clock.
Barclay Goodrow pointed out, “We’ve done our job if we’re forcing dumps and teams to get the puck out of their hands and not enter the zone with possession.”
They’re also learning how to balance when to trap and when to get aggressive with that second forechecker. Jimmy Vesey explained, “We don’t want to sit back into it the entire game. If there’s a chip out or flip out, we want to send two guys and pressure them.”
New York’s adaptability and focus on fine details are translating well on the ice. So, whether it’s the 1-3-1 or other variations, the Rangers are building a reputation for being a challenging team to play against. Laviolette noted, “What I love is that they’ve bought into it. They’re working hard, and they’re competing hard, and it’s been pretty consistent.”
The work has seen results. Per NHL Edge, the Blueshirts spend quality time in the offensive zone, ranking ninth in the league at 42.8%. Simultaneously, their defensive zone presence is robust, ranking ninth at 39.6%. The strategies are limiting the room for Rangers opponents and forcing them into uncomfortable situations.
The Blueshirts have shown a deep commitment to the process through their 5-2 start, and we’re excited to see how this season unfolds.