BUFFALO — David Quinn complained after the season-opening 3-2 loss to Nashville that his team didn’t play “in your face’’ hockey enough against the Predators. So, the coach made a change in his lineup for the second game of the season Saturday night against the Sabres, inserting enforcer Cody McLeod into the lineup in place of Vladislav Namestnikov.
Quinn said he wasn’t looking for McLeod to fight, but the forward wasted little time doing just that. He dropped the gloves with Sabres defenseman Nathan Beaulieu late in the first period.
“This has nothing to do with the fighting aspect of it,’’ Quinn said. “This is a guy who’s going to get after you; he’s going to make you uncomfortable when you have the puck.’’
At the morning skate, Quinn insisted the change was not about anything Namestnikov didn’t do, but more about what McLeod could do.
“Just a little more pace and energy,’’ Quinn said when asked what he wanted from McLeod. “Cody had a good camp, and you want to reward him. So, put him in there, and hopefully he continues to build on what he did in training camp.’’
Eichel starred for Quinn at BU
Talking about Sabres captain Jack Eichel, who starred for him as a player at Boston University, Quinn said he thought Eichel, who led the nation in scoring and won the Hobey Baker Award as a freshman in 2015, initially wanted to return for his sophomore year, until he went to the World Championships that spring. After the tournament, Eichel met with Quinn, who gave his blessing for him to turn pro. He was taken by the Sabres with the No. 2 pick overall.
“My concern with him coming back [to BU] was, he wasn’t going to have the same level of respect for college hockey that was going to allow him to improve,’’ Quinn said of Eichel. “It was time for him to go, for sure — not that he needed me to tell him that, I think he was leaving anyway — but I would have driven him to Buffalo.’’
Besides McLeod, there were no other changes for the Rangers. Defensemen Fredrik Claesson and Anthony DeAngelo were the other scratches . . . The Rangers visit the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday at 5 p.m. Backup goalie Alexandar Georgiev is expected in net after Henrik Lundqvist started the first two games of the season.