We’re only three to six games into the 2013-14 NHL season, and we’ve already seen one head coach receive his walking papers. With the way some teams seasons are going so far, it’s safe to assume that Peter Laviolette will not be the only head coach updating his resume before the season is over. We know that Bruins head coach Claude Julien is pretty safe at this point, but not everyone is as lucky. Here are a few coaches that might have to worry about that call from their team’s chairman or general manager in the near future.
Washington Capitals – Adam Oates. The former Bruin great has been given a team with a tremendous amount of talent. They consistently putting impressive shots on the goal, but fail to find a hole in the crease. (They outshot the Avalanche 41-28 in their most recent defeat, a 5-1 loss at home.) They are currently 1-4-0 with a -7 goals against rating. Unlike the Flyers, the Capitals had a strong preseason, going 4-0-4. Alexander Ovechkin has been his usual beast self, leading the team with seven points(five goals). Oates’ saving grace is that both of his goaltenders currently have a sub .900 save record. The performances of Braden Holtby (0-3-0, 4.04 goals against, .873 save percentage) and Michel Neuvrith (1-1-0, 3.30 goals against, .893 save percentage) have been the weakest link in an offensively strong Washington team.
Buffalo Sabres – Ron Rolston. The preseason started out with such potential for the Sabres, having gone 4-2-1. Since then, it’s been a rough six games for the Sabres, having gone 0-5-1.(-10 goals against rating) That one point puts them in sole possession of having the worst record in the NHL. It’s certainly not the goaltenders’ fault in their case. Ryan Miller has done everything he can put move up and take shots on net for Buffalo. His .941 save percentage and his 2.29 goals against average certainly makes one think that his 0-4-0 record is a typo. Players like Mike Weber and Tyler Myers are at -8 and -7 respectively already, and they are the highlight of a team that has only two players (Christian Ehrhoff and Mike Pysyk) with a +/- higher than zero.
Ron Rolston was brought in last season was brought in after the firing of long time coach Lindy Ruff. Rolston has already had some odd luck with the team this year, being fined $10,000(US) for having a line up the league thought was inappropriate. (For those who forget, this was the game that transformed Phil Kessel into a samurai warrior as he tried to cleave John Scott with his stick and got a three pre-game ‘suspension’ for his act.)The Sabres have struggled in the last few years, and the defensive breakdowns this season have hurt the team at all the worst possible moments. This might just be a case of bad luck and bad timing for Rolston.
New York Rangers – Alain Vigneault. This is probably the most baffling of them all. The preseason was a surprisingly rough 1-5-0. The regular season is shaping up the same way. It’s so bloody odd though. The Rangers have talent. They’ve got Henrik Lundqvist who is doing everything under creation to save games for his team. (His 1-3-0 with a .887 save percentage and a 4.21 goals against is bad for any goalie. That those are his stats is positively shocking.) Their number two, Martin Biron‘s numbers (7.61 goals against, .763 save percentage) would be terrible in a beer league. Nothing seems to be working for them. They’re 1-4-0, and the best thing they can say is that they’re starting to put things together.
Alain Vigneault and John Tortorella switched jobs last year. Tortorella went over to the Vancouver Canucks and is probably laughing and f-bombing his face off right about now. If any coach is ripe for the chopping block, it’s likely to be Vigneault.