BUFFALO — Maybe David Quinn is starting to like this seven-defenseman look, or maybe he just needed to prove a point, but the Rangers’ coach went with seven defensemen for the third straight game and still managed to insert Hartford call-up Connor Brickley into the lineup Friday night.
He did it by scratching 19-year-old rookie Filip Chytil.
It was the second time this season Quinn has scratched Chytil, the second of the Rangers’ two first-round picks in 2017. He benched the Czech forward on New Year’s Eve in St. Louis.
“I think Fil’s play has slipped a little bit,’’ Quinn said. “One of the things all young players have to learn is how to consistently compete and be hard on pucks and give an effort in all three zones. Fil was doing a real good job of that. I think that slipped a little bit . . . It’s all part of development, learning lessons.’’
In any case, having seven defensemen in the lineup came in handy when Brady Skjei left the game midway through the second period with a lower-body injury. Brendan Smith, who had been playing forward on the fourth line with Brickley and Boo Nieves, dropped back to play defense the rest of the game.
“Pretty good, huh?’’ Quinn said when asked how lucky he was to have seven defensemen in the lineup.
“[Smith] did a good job [at forward], and it was nice to have him to be able to put him back on D when Brady got hurt.’’
Skjei is listed as day-to-day, Quinn said, and could play as early as Sunday in Pittsburgh . . . Brickley, 26, was a second-round draft pick by Florida in 2010. He played 44 games with the Panthers last season, with four goals and eight assists.