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Rangers vs Golden Knights: Ain’t That A Kick In The Head

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New York Rangers v Vegas Golden Knights
  • The New York Rangers enter the bye week on a loss after falling 2-1 to the Vegas Golden Knights. It was a game dominated by Vegas in which they out attempted the Rangers 61 to 43 in 5v5 situations, and out shot them 34 to 29 in 60 minutes of play.
  • Mika Zibanejad opened the scoring with a sensational shot that looked to catch Marc-Andre Fleury by surprise. The goal was No. 93’s 13th of the season; slowly but surely he is returning to form after coming back from a concussion.
Shayna Goldman | @hayyyshayyy
  • Ondrej Pavelec was outstanding; he made 32 saves and continued to show why he is a rock capable of spelling Henrik Lundqvist. Pavelec couldn’t really have done much more for his team as the first goal was the result of a turnover as the Rangers were transitioning; the second goal was just a clustermess of defensive coverage.
Shayna Goldman | @hayyyshayyy 
  • This GIF really sums up the Rangers’ play this weekend. The Rangers showed a little more of a fight against Vegas than they did the Arizona Coyotes, but it was a lackluster display considering the team is headed to a five day break.
  • Kevin Hayes left the game with an injury early on, and he finished with 3:01 of ice time. The Rangers from that point seemed to roll three lines, and Paul Carey (8:32) and Vinni Lettieri (13:28) were lost in the shuffle a bit.
  • The night certainly had a number of questionable decisions with the two biggest being the healthy scratching of Pavel Buchnevich and Brendan Smith.
  • Buchnevich’s usage this season has been infuriating, but consider this for a moment – it was only a few days ago where Alain Vigneault wanted to try and light a spark.
  • He didn’t commit to this strategy long, as Buchnevich found himself in the bottom six toward the end of the game against Arizona, and didn’t sniff the ice in 3v3 overtime. Lettieri did get a shift in 3v3 overtime however, and he caused a turnover that resulted in a breakaway which led to a power play. This is not to get on Lettieri, who is a fine young player with upside, but this just speaks to the double standard employed by Vigneault. If Buchnevich was on the ice and made that turnover, Sunday’s healthy scratch becomes a little more “understandable.”
  • As I have said all year long, I am totally fine with accountability. I understand at times why he will shorten the bench. I understood why he sat Shattenkirk late in the game against the New Jersey Devils a few weeks ago. What I don’t understand is AV scratching the team’s third leading scorer at a time where the team needs offense amid injuries and stagnant play
  • Mats Zuccarello, their leading scorer, missed Saturday’s game because he was sick. Chris Kreider is an offensive spark plug who is sidelined indefinitely.
  • There are so many mental gymnastics that can be spun about Buchnevich, but the fact of the matter is he has a skill set that many others on the team do not. He is a player who can generate offense and AV should be giving him a longer leash because the Rangers need all the help they can get upfront.
  • There are parts of Buchnevich’s game that people don’t like and my take is that is comes back to perspective and expectations. Some feel that he’s not good enough defensively. Sometimes it is as if there isn’t an understanding that there are a select few players who are as good defensively as they are offensively and vice versa. There are only a few Connor McDavid’s and Sidney Crosby’s out there. This is not to compare Buchnevich to either player, but to illustrate how common it is for players to be very proficient in an area and average in another, or conversely a jack of all trades and a master of none.
  • Buchnevich is one of the game’s top young offensive players period, and one who is just starting to receive national attention. He shouldn’t be penalized for being really good in one area and still developing in other areas. He is in a bit of a lull right now, but that shouldn’t earn him a scratching at a time where very little others are playing better offensively.
  • Young players need to play. Jimmy Vesey struggled in the second half of last season after a hot start as his body adjusted to playing a full NHL season. Although he wasn’t playing well, it was valuable experience for him to work through adversity. The good coaches let their players work through it, learn from it and ultimately become better from it. Again, this is not to rag on another player but to highlight the inconsistencies when it comes to development and usage.
  • I am sure more thoughts on this subject will be written this week because there isn’t anything else to talk about as the Rangers’ next game is on Saturday January 13 vs. the New York Islanders at 1:00 p.m.