Rookie winger Pavel Buchnevich was a healthy scratch against the Panthers on Friday night, but coach Alain Vigneault issued an endorsement before the game.
Asked if the 21-year-old Russian could be sent to AHL Hartford to play, as he was for a game last month, Vigneault insisted that he will be back in the lineup.
“At this point, I would say no [to Hartford]. We’ve used up a recall [teams are allowed only four],” Vigneault said. ”He’s not playing tonight, but he is going to play. He’s had some good games lately. It’s just that inconsistency with a few plays that we need him to be a little bit better, but he is going to play. There’s a lot of hockey left. We’ve got a lot of faith in his skill level and the way he can play.”
Buchnevich, who missed 25 games with back issues starting in late November, has two goals and an assist in his last seven games.
Looking for chemistry
Vigneault wouldn’t commit to line combinations in the final 11 games and will see how things unfold.
“I’d like us to be able to put 60 minutes together . . . It’s also on a performance basis,’’ he said. “There’s got to be some chemistry and you’ve got to play well. Kreids and Step [Chris Kreider and Derek Stepan], I know that those two have played with one another. Mika [Zibanejad] was out for a while. I’m hoping with Nasher [Rick Nash] and J.T. [Miller], there might be something there. Jesper [Fast] coming back, him and Grabs [Michael Grabner] have had some good chemistry. We’ll see.”
Raanta stays in goal
Antti Raanta made his fourth straight start subbing for injured Henrik Lundqvist. Magnus Hellberg was the backup. The Blueshirts play in Minnesota on Saturday, the first of four consecutive back-to-back sets. This is the first such game sequence for the Rangers since March 24, 2001, through April 5, 2001, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. “At some point, logic would say he’ll [Hellberg] get a game, depending on how quick Hank comes back,” Vigneault said. Lundqvist, whose hip strain is improving, could play on the three-game California trip starting March 24.