The outside perception of the trade deadline acquisition of Keith Yandle was that the New York Rangers were loading up for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
That viewed was shared by those inside the organization, too.
"I figured adding Yandle to our [defensive] group would make us a better group," Alain Vigneault told reporters Saturday following practice at the team's Greenburgh Training Facility.
Yandle has provided Vigneault with three pairs of lefty-righty defensive units that the coach covets, along with a power play quarterback.
In his two games since the trade, Yandle has been paired with Kevin Klein on the third unit. Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi are set as the first pair, and Dan Boyle has been partnered with Marc Staal.
"We've got three pairs that we feel very comfortable playing against anybody right now," Vigneault said. "Especially when you're on the road where sometimes you don't necessarily get the offensive matchups you're looking for, if on the back end we're pretty confident with what we have it makes it good for your team.
"So far in the first two games that's what we've seen."
Given the caveat that two games is a small sample size, the reconstructed back end has been productive in the Mar. 2 rout of Nashville and the Mar. 4 overtime loss to Detroit, totaling two goals, two assists, four points and 27 shots on goal.
Moreover, the allocation of ice time has essentially been spread out, with Ryan McDonagh's 24:44 against Detroit being the most any of the six received in the two games. Kevin Klein's 17:30 against Detroit was the least amount of ice time any of the six have had in the two games.
"I know having [Yandle] is helping our group," Vigneault said. "I think as a group we played some good hockey against two really good teams.
"Detroit's without a doubt--just look at the standings, they're one of the best teams in the league. They play a high pace, fast game and to counter that you have to check well and you have to be able to move the puck well. I thought we played extremely well in Detroit. I thought we played extremely well in Nashville and now we're playing Chicago [Sunday], who a lot of people say [are one of the] favorites to win the Cup."
Following Sunday night's nationally televised game against the Blackhawks, the Rangers visit the Islanders Tuesday, then travel to Washington Wednesday for another nationally televised date against Hart Trophy candidate Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals.
Due to the schedule, Saturday's practice was the first after two off days. Vigneault explained his rationale for the break was "rest and recovery is a big part of a season. I felt [that] with the way the schedule was laid out and what's coming up, this was the right time."