Rangers right wing Vitali Kravtsov skates with the puck against...

Rangers right wing Vitali Kravtsov skates with the puck against the Flyers during the first period of an NHL preseason game at Madison Square Garden on Sept. 26, 2019. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

A week after his first practice with the team, and two-and-a-half weeks after his arrival in the U.S., following the conclusion of his KHL season, there is still no announced date by the Rangers for when Russian winger Vitali Kravtsov will make his Blueshirts debut.

Rangers coach David Quinn couldn’t say if he would make a change to the lineup for Thursday’s game in Buffalo against the Sabres, but his post-practice remarks Wednesday didn’t make it sound as though Kravtsov will be in Thursday.

"As much as about what he's doing, it's about what people in the lineup are not doing,’’ said Quinn, who pointed out that Wednesday’s practice was the first time he has been on the ice with Kravtsov since the NHL bubble last August in Toronto. "We won 5-2 (against Washington on Tuesday), feel good about the way we played, feel good about the way a lot of guys played.

"There's two parts to it,’’ he continued. "It's us wanting to get him in and him earning the opportunity to get in, but also someone -- you may want to say, 'Well this guy … probably doesn't deserve to be in the lineup.’ So there's a couple things that go into that decision-making process.’’

Kravtsov, 21, was the first of three first-round picks the Rangers made in the 2018 draft, selected ninth overall. He played this season on loan in Russia with his old KHL team, Traktor Chelyabinsk, and scored 16 goals in 49 games in the regular season, and two goals and two assists in five playoff games.

Looking past Sabres?

Quinn was asked how he will keep his team from looking past a Sabres team that entered Wednesday’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers on an 18-game (0-15-3) losing streak. The Rangers will play the Sabres twice, on Thursday and Saturday in Buffalo.

"We certainly know what's in front of us and we know what's at stake,’’ Quinn said. "We can't afford to take anybody lightly in this league – nobody can… We've had tough games with Buffalo. Nothing's been easy with them. And it would be a great mistake from our end of it to take anybody lightly.’’

The Rangers are 2-1 against Buffalo, including a 3-2 overtime win Jan. 28, in which Alexis Lafreniere’s first NHL goal was the game-winner.

"This is a key part of the season for us,’’ defenseman Ryan Lindgren said. "We’ve got to to get on a roll here, and claw our way back into a playoff spot. So, we're certainly not going to take them lightly.’’

Blue notes

Quinn said Igor Shesterkin (8-8-1, 2.32 goals-against average, .925 save percentage) will start in goal… Adam Fox’s 17 assists in March were the most by a Ranger since Jaromir Jagr had 18 in December, 2005. Fox, who became the first Rangers defenseman since Brian Leetch to record 30 points in the season’s first 35 games, also had the most assists for a Rangers defenseman in a month since Leetch had 18 in December, 1995… Brett Howden (COVID-19 list, five games missed) will undergo cardiac screening Thursday, the final step to being cleared to return to play. He will not join the team in Buffalo… Tickets for the final nine home games at the Garden went on sale Wednesday. The Garden will be accepting New York State’s Excelsior Pass, which provides digital proof of a COVID-19 vaccination or negative test results.

More Rangers

Newsday LogoSUBSCRIBEUnlimited Digital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months