Vigneault sets tone with tough skate

October, 21, 2013
10/21/13
5:07
PM ET
GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Alain Vigneault may be regarded as the genial, gentler personality when compared with his predecessor John Tortorella, but the new Rangers coach can be tough, too.

After a rigorous, hour-long practice Monday that included plenty of one-on-one and two-on-two battle drills, Vignault skated his 2-5-0 team hard for ten solid minutes.

After a series of sprints, the Rangers appeared gassed and drained of energy. Some were doubled over in fatigue. Others were still feeling the effects after practice was over.

"I can't even move," said Derick Brassard, shaking his head while sitting back against his dressing room stall.

A tough, physically-taxing session with three days of practice in between games isn't anything new. But, it was also a good reminder that the team's compete level needs improvement from its poor start.

"I think, especially after the last game, looking at the standings is a tough thing to do," defenseman Marc Staal said. "We're behind the eight ball. We need to compete to get out of this quickly and start winning some games. We need that desperation mentality when we get into a game."

Vigneault gave the team the day off Sunday following Saturday's 4-0 shutout loss in New Jersey. He was disappointed with the offensive push-back the team mustered then and is clearly seeking a response both during practice and for the games ahead.

"It's always been intense," Brassard said of Vigneault's practices. "There's no [being] bored. It's always running. Everyone expects a hard practice and that's what we like. It prepares us well for the games."

Brassard is one player that will need to elevate his game, considering the substantive list of injuries plaguing the team right now.

The team is without captain Ryan Callahan (hand), Carl Hagelin (shoulder) and Rick Nash (concussion).

Hagelin is slated to come off injured reserve October 29, but the other two top-six forwards are in murkier territory. Callahan is expected to miss up to a month with a broken thumb, while Nash's return remains nebulous.

He has not skated since suffering a concussion nearly two weeks ago and does not appear to be exhibiting any signs of improvement. According to the Rangers, there is "nothing new" with his condition.
Katie Strang covers the NHL for ESPN.com. She is a graduate of Michigan State University and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
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