Steve Zipay Newsday columnist Steve Zipay

Steve Zipay is an award-winning journalist who has covered events from Super Bowls to World Series and issues from sports marketing to stadium financing. Based in New York for 25 years, Steve also has been a news editor, a business editor and sports media columnist for Newsday. In 1997, Steve was a member of the Newsday team that won a Pulitzer Prize for spot news reporting on the crash of Flight 800. He has covered the Rangers and the NHL since the 2005-06 season. Show More

Could rookie Pavel Buchnevich be sidelined for longer than expected?

It’s certainly possible.

The Russian forward, who had a promising start to the season, will miss his fourth straight game today with back spasms — he also missed five with the same malady in mid-October — and will undergo further tests to determine whether there’s a deeper issue.

“This obviously might be more than back spasms, so we’ll take a good look and come up with a plan,” coach Alain Vigneault said after Buchnevich sat out practice yesterday after skating with the extras in Columbus on Friday morning for more than 30 minutes.

“Not a setback,” said Vigneault, “but again he came in [yesterday], and didn’t feel the way we expected him to.”

Buchnevich, 21, a third-round draft pick in 2013 who played in Russia before settling in New York last summer, had a recurrence of pain in warmups in Edmonton last Sunday, and didn’t play. The right wing has said he never had back issues previously, but the problem has limited to him to just 10 games. He has four goals and four assists.

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The coaching staff clearly wants to find and treat the cause, even if means that Buchnevich must be sidelined. This is where depth up front, which the Rangers collected during the summer, comes into play.

For example, in some positive injury news, center Josh Jooris, who dislocated his shoulder against the Bruins on Oct. 26, spent a full practice playing between Brandon Pirri and Jesper Fast on the fourth line yesterday, and is expected to return today against the Florida Panthers at Madison Square Garden.

Afterward, Jooris said he was ready to go, and because the Rangers will not have a morning skate, it appears Jooris will play and Oscar Lindberg will be a healthy scratch.

SUPPORT FOR LUNDQVIST, MILLER AFTER SHAKY GAME

Although he had a rocky game in the 4-2 loss in Columbus on Friday, allowing three stoppable goals on 24 shots, Henrik Lundqvist will return against the Panthers today. “He’s the last person that I worry about,” Vigneault said. “All goaltenders will give up the odd goal that they’d like to have back, especially one that has such a high standard as Hank.” Backup Antti Raanta is expected to play tomorrow in Pittsburgh.

J.T. Miller, whose two turnovers led to Columbus goals, including a shorthanded game-winner in the third period, and was benched for the final 8:25, was on a regular line yesterday in practice.

“After he made his first turn- over, I threw him back out there,” said Vigneault. “I’ve got a lot of confidence in J.T., but towards the end you have to go with guys who were going to give us a little bit more. On both 5-on-5 goals, J.T. and Jesper Fast, there’s no pressure and they made the wrong decisions [with passes that were intercepted].”

WEIGHING IN ON POSSIBLE SHOOTOUT CHANGE

The NHL is considering a new shootout format, akin to the Olympics, where after three players on each side shoot and if the game isn’t decided, a player can try multiple times.

Call it the Oshie Rule. Oshie, who currently plays for Washington, scored four times on six shots to help the U.S. defeat Russia, 3-2, in February 2014 in Sochi as a member of the Blues.

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Henrik Lundqvist shrugged yesterday when asked which he’d prefer. “A shooter’s a shooter,” he said.

Derek Stepan, who was there and enjoyed when Oshie put on a show, said he wouldn’t mind seeing a variety of players get a chance. “That’s fun to watch. Otherwise it would be Zuke, Zuke, Zuke, Zuke, [referring to Mats Zuccarello, the team’s most successful scorer in shootouts].” Zuccarello took the politically-correct approach: “I like both,” he said.

Defenseman Ryan McDonagh was a realist: “Well, that would probably shut me out of ever getting a chance.”