Ahh, Pavel Buchnevich. What a roller-coaster ride he’s taken his coach on these past two seasons.
“Sometimes you get the high rides and you're having a hell of a time, and then you're waiting in line and waiting to get on the ride, and you're getting frustrated and aggravated,’’ Rangers coach David Quinn said of Buchnevich after Wednesday night’s 5-3 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs. “He's a good player. He's a real good player, and he's had a good year for us. And, you know, sometimes guys just need a little jolt.’’
Quinn provided that jolt in Monday night’s 5-3 loss to the Dallas Stars when he demoted Buchnevich from the first line to the fourth line. Buchnevich had scored a goal in that game, but afterward, Quinn said — through clenched teeth — “I didn’t love his game.’’
But when the Rangers got back to work Wednesday against Toronto, Quinn put Buchnevich back on the top line with center Mika Zibanejad and left wing Chris Kreider, who was returning to the lineup after missing Monday’s game with a neck injury. Zibanejad, Kreider and Buchnevich each scored and had at least one assist. Buchnevich had two.
Quinn, who scratched Buchnevich several times last season, was asked why he keeps sticking with the 24-year-old Russian.
“Because I think he's a really good player, and . . . he knows that we believe in him,’’ Quinn said. “There are times where you're not gonna play 82 great games. But we've talked about the things he has to do when things aren't going well, and it's just, it's part of the evolution of a young player.’’
Buchnevich, who has 11 goals and 20 assists in 52 games, has been battling the flu for some time. He said he first started feeling ill around the Jan. 11 game in St. Louis. Nevertheless, his goal Wednesday was his fourth in the past five games, though according to him, he’s not playing any better now than he was when he managed only two in the 23 games before that.
"If you watch the game, I have a chance every game,’’ Buchnevich said earlier this week. “[Sometimes] it doesn’t go in."
Then he asked a reporter if it looked like he was shooting on goal when he scored against Dallas on Monday.
“No,’’ he said. “I didn’t shoot it. It’s a pass to Mika. I like the goal, of course. Some days you like it, some days you don’t like it. But I’ll take it.’’
Sounds like his coach talking about him.
Notes & quotes: The Rangers did not practice Thursday . . . Quinn said Tuesday that the plan was for Alexandar Georgiev to start in goal Friday against Buffalo, but he also said that could change. And after Igor Shesterkin (27 saves) played brilliantly in Wednesday’s win, Quinn seemed to be waffling on his goalie choice. When asked if he would stick with Georgiev or ride Shesterkin’s hot hand, he said, “Yeah, that's a good question. It's a good question.’’ . . . Quinn said he reunited Ryan Strome and Artemi Panarin during Wednesday’s game — they had been on separate lines at the start — because Strome started playing better. “I thought Strome was getting back to doing some of the things that he needs to do,’’ Quinn said. “It was more . . . about telling Stromer that things need to be better. And things were better.’’