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Pavel Buchnevich Has Enjoyed Return to Rangers’ Top Line

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Since re-joining the top line, Buchnevich has picked up where he left off.

Columbus Blue Jackets v New York Rangers Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

A week and a day ago I published a story with the title “What More Does Pavel Buchnevich Have to Prove to Alain Vigneault?” where I outlined everything he had been doing right. Interestingly enough, that same day Buchnevich was penciled in on the top line for a game that was billed as a potential last stand for Alain Vigneault. The New York Rangers won that night and the team hasn’t lost since.

In all seriousness, the reunion of the KZB line was something that should have happened sooner than it did, but at this point who cares? People do, but now is a time to show some positivity. I don’t intend to re-litigate the case, but instead look at how he’s played since the line has been reunited.

The results of the line have been evident on the power play, and that makes a ton of sense. If a line is comfortable and familiar in normal circumstances, giving them more room to operate on the power play should yield results.

Back to Buchnevich specifically, in the last four games he has skated 49:13 at 5v5 and has a team best CF% of 55.79. He has one goal and seven shots on goal in that time.

That lone goal was one of the easier he will score all season, but it counts as the others when all is said and done.

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When you adjust the slider to all situations, Buchnevich has a pair of goals and assists for four points and a team best CF% of 64.66. He also has a team best shots for percentage of 68.83, and a GF% of 66.67 which is sixth best on the team.

The minutes played per game is key, as pointed out by our resident HockeyStatMiner.

In addition to that, here’s his year to date numbers vs. last year.

These numbers are great and are promising and reinforce what has been on display in the recent stretch.

Although it is only a four-game sample, what has stood out to me is the cohesiveness of the three man unit that has been a major boon for the power play.

On Monday’s victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Rangers scored three power play goals. On each goal, a member of the KZB line was involved, with Buchnevich picking up primary points on back-to-back power play goals. The first saw him fire a shot toward net which was slammed home by Kreider.

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The next power-play goal saw Mika Zibanejad play the role of facilitator as he spun a nice saucer pass, which Buchnevich blasted home without missing a beat.

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It was a perfectly executed play that worked because of the talent involved and because of the chemistry Buchnevich and Zibanejad have. A lot had to go right on this play – someone without Buchnevich’s vision and someone not familiar with Zibanejad could have dropped too early or too late which would have resulted in the puck jumping their stick or sliding through their legs.

Ultimately the line as a whole is clicking right now, and it is fun to watch. Chris Kreider is starting to warm up, Zibanejad continues to impress as a No. 1 center and Buchnevich is the player many thought he could be. I stand by my thought that this is a year where I think he will score 30 goals.

Overall he’s off to a great start and trending in the right direction.

There will be a point where things slow down, but early on Buchnevich has been doing the right things and shown a ton of confidence. His skill set plays well off of Zibanejad and Kreider, and hopefully this will be a line that remains together for many years to come.

Data via Natural Stat Trick.