Alain Vigneault is not using Keith Yandle effectively
Keith Yandle isn’t doing enough this season.
Normally, this is where an article would begin to criticize the player for his play, what he isn’t doing enough of and what, in this case, Yandle would need to do better.
It’s true. Yandle hasn’t been doing enough. But it’s not his fault.
It’s Alain Vigneault’s fault.
Despite having one of the most talented offensive defensemen in the league in his repertoire, Vigneault instead decides to constantly place his trust in the veterans on the team, sending them out there shift after shift even if they’re struggling.
Keith Yandle is the sixth defenseman on this team, way below his capabilities and skill level. In Arizona, Yandle was one of the top pairing defensemen, logging way over 20 minutes a night and playing a ton of minutes on the power play.
Vigneault has relegated him to the third pairing and playing sheltered minutes. Yandle is capable of much more than that, and he needs to start getting used as a top-four defenseman in more roles and opportunities.
Yandle is not a shutdown defender, nobody is trying to claim that. But he has been better in his own end this season. Maybe it’s the sheltered minutes, or maybe he’s improved defensively. But there haven’t been any big, noticeable mistakes.
Dan Girardi and Marc Staal have made more mistakes that have led to goals this year. Both players have a long-standing reputation of being shutdown defenders, but age quickly catches up to shot blocking, physical defensemen. With Yandle, he’s still very mobile, and his passing ability allows him to get out of sticky situations and outlet a forward for a counterattack.
I do think that Yandle should be trusted in a top four role, and given closer to 20 minutes a night on a consistent basis. But my bigger concern is his usage on the power play.
Let’s be clear. When it comes to quarterbacking the power play, Yandle is in the top five in the NHL for that category. He can be discussed with the likes of Erik Karlsson and PK Subban on the man advantage.
Last season with the Coyotes, Yandle averaged over four minutes of ice time on the man advantage. In 63 games, he amassed a total of 26 power play points (2-24-26), among the league leaders in power play points.
In 21 regular season games in New York that season, Yandle had just three points (0-3-3) on the power play. Why is that? Because Vigneault wasn’t using him enough. It’s happening again this season, with Yandle averaging just 2.5 minutes on the power play each game, and he has three points (1-2-3) through the first 15 games.
It truly confuses me when Vigneault sends out the first power play unit, and Yandle isn’t on it. Ryan McDonagh has struggled to contribute offensively this season, yet he’s still on the first unit. It doesn’t make sense.
In Montreal, PK Subban will play almost the entire two minutes of the team’s power play. And as a result, he tallies a lot of goals and records a lot of points on the man advantage (8-13-21 in 2014-15). Yandle should be used in the exact same way.
If you’re not going to play Yandle in big time situations at even strength, then let him play to his strengths when the team is on the PP. That’s what he does best, better than almost everyone in the entire league.
Yandle will be so much more productive if he’s on the first power play unit, playing with guys like Derick Brassard and Rick Nash, and staying out on the ice for a minute and a half. He’d also be more productive if he gets to play with the top two lines at even strength too.
Dan Girard and Marc Staal are not the same players from three years ago. Ryan McDonagh is struggling to produce offensively. Keith Yandle is not struggling, and he’s just as good and talented as he was a few years ago.
So AV, just play Yandle. Let him log top minutes, jump-start the offense, ignite the power play and reach the 50 point plateau again.
Thoughts? Questions? Make sure to have a discussion in the comments and vote on the poll.
Posted on November 9, 2015, in In the Crease and tagged Alain Vigneault, Arizona Coyotes, AV, Dan Girardi, Duclair, Keith Yandle, Marc Staal, New York Rangers, New York Rangers blog, NHL, NYR, power play rankings, Rangers, Rangers blog, Rangers Power Play, Ryan McDonagh, Vigneault, Yandle trade. Bookmark the permalink. 25 Comments.