Alain Vigneault Puts His Top Players and Habs Coach Muller on Notice

Flyers Canadiens

It would somehow be an understatement to say Game 2 against the Montreal Canadiens was an unmitigated disaster for the Flyers. Perhaps lost in the shuffle of a game that saw the Flyers’ forecheck disappear, blown chances on the power play, and the surprising lack of traffic in front of Carey Price was the presence of the Habs’ top power play unit taking the ice in the midst of a 5-0 blowout late in the game. You know who did take notice? Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault:

 

Vigneault: “I saw towards the end of the game there where Kirk Muller there got a 5-0 lead and he puts his #1 power play on the ice. We had embarrassed ourselves enough. I don’t think we needed to get embarrassed more. So, I’m gonna make sure our team is very aware of that next game.”

The reaction online was varied, ranging from those who noted that the experienced head coach wanted to take some heat off his team:

To those who look forward to Vigneault’s demolition of Muller:

To those who noted the potential hypocrisy of AV’s statement:

To a dopey Maple Leafs fan, who apparently forgot his team hasn’t won a Stanley Cup in 53 years:

To those who found the words refreshing after years of Dave Hakstol’s public stoicism:

From my vantage point, this is a good sign for a few reasons. Vigneault was unhappy with his team’s play and rightfully so. There are only so many times a coach can and should take the fall for his team, and maybe AV should be blamed for the team not being ready to go. Perhaps some of that blame should fall at the feet of the players.

Keep this in mind: This response came just after he was asked whether he was concerned that his top players haven’t gotten on the scoresheet. His response:

There’s no doubt that in any time, whether it be in-season hockey or playoff hockey, you need your top players to be driving the bus. Right now, I know that their intentions are good, but it has to transform itself on the ice surface. Tonight, the total team was off. We hadn’t had one of those in a long time. We’ve been playing some pretty good hockey lately. At the same time, we picked a bad time to play a bad game, but we did.

The most telling part of that quote is obviously the line about top players needing to be the ones to “drive the bus”, which is a line he’s used throughout the season. Maybe he took aim at Muller to take some heat off his highest-paid players, who have been underwhelming in five games in Toronto. The lone exception -at least initially- was Kevin Hayes, who is responsible for four of the six assists recorded by the the collective group of Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, James van Riemsdyk, and Hayes:

In fairness to Vigneault, he doesn’t need to deflect when apologists like my Snow The Goalie co-host Anthony SanFilippo bend over backwards to make excuses for a core that has taken heat over the years for missing the postseason four times since a Stanley Cup Finals run in 2010 and failing to advance beyond the first round since 2012.

All that said, I expect the Flyers to bounce back and win Game 3 in resounding fashion, but lineup adjustments are needed and big-salary players need to factor into the results for this team to have a deep postseason run.

For more Flyers coverage, follow Snow The Goalie on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Also be sure to tune into The Press Row Show as Anthony SanFilippo and Russ Joy provide pregame and intermission coverage of every Flyers home game from press row of the Wells Fargo Center via the Crossing Broad Facebook page, YouTube Live, and Twitter, and their Twitter accounts   

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