GREENBURGH, N.Y. – Pavel Buchnevich had no explanations Wednesday as to why he had been scratched from the lineup Tuesday night when the Rangers dressed only 11 forwards for their 1-0 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers at the Garden.
“I heard what [Rangers coach David Quinn] said was the reason I didn’t play,’’ Buchnevich said after practice at the Rangers’ training facility. “I can’t tell you anything more.’’
At Tuesday’s morning skate, Quinn said Buchnevich has “got to play better.” The 23-year-old right wing, who has been scratched for four games this season, has nine goals and six assists in 32 games with a minus-3 rating. He missed 13 games earlier this season with a broken thumb.
So far, Quinn has not come right out and said what exactly it is that Buchnevich isn’t doing well enough, but presumably it has to do with either being more responsible defensively, being tougher, or working harder. Buchnevich said he didn’t know exactly what it was he needs to do better, but he expected to find out when he met with Quinn after practice.
“Probably we’ll watch video today and I’ll see what’s my problem and we’ll figure it out,’’ he said. “And I’ll try to be better.’’
Veteran Chris Kreider, one of Buchnevich’s closest friends in the locker room, said Buchnevich is going through a tough period that most NHL players will experience at some point in their careers.
“It’s just a matter of him working hard and trying to digest all the stuff the coaches are telling him and apply that night in and night out,’’ said Kreider. “It sounds a lot simpler than it is. The game’s fast, and when you’ve got to play hockey, you’ve got to make reads, so sometimes taking all that information in, and maybe you’re overthinking it, maybe you’re kind of second-guessing your own game. Players go through that, young and old.’’
Quinn has made a point about demanding accountability from players and hasn’t been shy about benching veterans and scratching players to get his point across. The coach said he was pleased with Buchnevich’s effort in practice Wednesday, and with his attitude. Given the fact that Brett Howden was scheduled to have an MRI on the knee he sprained in Tuesday’s game (“it will be a little while,’’ Quinn said of how long Howden will be out) and that Mats Zuccarello is not certain to return from the foot infection that kept him out Tuesday, Buchnevich should presumably be back in the lineup against the Devils in New Jersey Thursday.
“The good news is, he usually responds under circumstances like this, so I’m hoping that’s the case again,’’ Quinn said of Buchnevich. “We need him.’’
Notes & quotes: Zuccarello skated Wednesday for the first time since the bye week/All-Star break. He said he suffered his injury blocking a shot in the Jan. 17 game against Chicago and his heel swelled up. He said the foot has felt better every day and he hopes to play Thursday. “We’ll see how I feel,’’ he said . . . Henrik Lundqvist will play in goal, Quinn said.