SAN JOSE, Calif.— David Quinn seems to be at his wit’s end with forward Pavel Buchnevich.
The Rangers’ first-year coach made it clear Tuesday he isn’t getting what he wants from the 23-year-old Buchnevich and scratched him from Tuesday night’s lineup against the Sharks, the third game of a four-game road trip. It was the second time in 12 games this season that Quinn has scratched Buchnevich, a talented, third-year player who was in and out of former coach Alain Vigneault’s doghouse all last season.
“He’s got to play better,’’ Quinn said of Buchnevich after the Rangers’ morning skate. “He’s a really talented player. He’s got some inconsistencies in his game, and, you know, we’ve got the bar high for him — as he should for himself. And he’s just got to play better.’’
Buchnevich, who had a strong preseason, started the regular season as the right wing on the No. 1 line with center Mika Zibanejad and left wing Chris Kreider. But despite scoring two goals in the first three games, he has bounced around the lineup, dropping from the first line to the second, third and fourth — and even playing his first-ever games at left wing. Eventually, Quinn left him out of the lineup in the sixth game of the season against the Colorado Avalanche Oct. 16. He put him back in the next night in Washington, but Buchnevich continued to underwhelm.
The Russian did score the Rangers’ only goal in the 4-1 loss to the Blackhawks in Chicago Thursday in the first game of the road trip. And he had an assist in the next game, Sunday’s 4-3 loss to the Kings But that wasn’t enough for Quinn.
“Obviously, you always like when a guy scores, but there’s got to be consistency,’’ Quinn said.
Buchnevich seemed disappointed and didn’t have much to say when he was approached after the skate. Asked if he understood what Quinn wanted from him, he said he had a meeting with the coach scheduled for later. Asked what more he can do, he said, “I don’t know. Just work hard.’’
Apparently, he hasn’t worked hard enough to this point — in Quinn’s mind, at least.
“At the end of the day, it’s about effort and doing the things that are required to have success at this level — or any level — in hockey,’’ he said. “This is a contact sport. You’ve got to take a hit to make a play; you’ve got to get in the way, and being physical means something different for every player, depending on your size. I’m not asking guys to run around and kill people, but, you know, you’ve got to take ice away from people; you’ve got to get in people’s way if there’s a size disadvantage. And you’ve got to make life hard for the other team.’’
Quinn then tried to make it clear that he isn’t giving up on the 6-3, 196-pound Buchnevich, a third-round pick in 2013 who scored 14 goals and had 43 points in 74 games last season (he has three goals and five points in 10 games this season).
“We’re asking him to do things that he’s going to have to do to be a productive player in this league,’’ the coach said. “And nobody’s lost faith in him; I think he’s going to be a really good player. But sometimes it’s a process, and it takes a little time.’’
Notes & quotes: Henrik Lundqvist was to start in goal, and Quinn said the plan is for backup Alexandar Georgiev to start the final game of the trip, Thursday in Anaheim against the Ducks… D Adam McQuaid (lower body injury) missed his second straight game, meaning Tony DeAngelo got to play in his second consecutive game after sitting out six in a row… Vinni Lettieri took Buchnevich’s spot in the lineup.