Vesey ended rookie campaign on a high note

It’s all too easy to focus on the big names on the Rangers roster who disappointed and failed to rise to the occasion in the playoffs. But today we’re again going to turn the focus to a rookie who found a way to exceed expectations.

Today we’re going to look at the strides that Jimmy Vesey made under the spotlight and pressure of Stanley Cup Playoff hockey.

In Game 5 against the Senators Vesey broke through with his first playoff goal. It took the rookie forward 11 games to set that personal milestone, but it’s important to remember that he was rarely on the power play. And that he played an average of 14:23 per night and ranked eighth on the team in average even strength TOI per game. And that he shot 6.7 percent.

The Rangers most regular line (in terms of TOI) was Vesey with veterans Derek Stepan and Rick Nash. The data suggests that those linemates put Vesey in a position to succeed at even strength.

Behold! The enlightening colored dots of WOWY in an exceedingly limited sample size:

Vigneault had Vesey and Nash attached at the hip in the playoffs. The two wingers shared over 472 minutes of 5-on-5 hockey. Although both players were haunted by sub-seven percent shooting percentages, they seemed to work well together.

In addition to his big goal in Game 5 Vesey picked up two primary assists and two secondary assists at evens. All told he finished with five points in the playoffs. That’s as many points as Nash had. That’s more points than Chris Kreider, Kevin Hayes and J.T. Miller had.

Not bad for a rookie who could only manage Cary Elwes’ mustache from The Princess Bride for his playoff beard. But the kid found ways to contribute outside of manly displays of facial hair and getting into the box score.

In the playoffs Mats Zuccarello was the only Ranger that drew more penalties than Vesey. The Harvard alumni played hard, honest hockey and had some of the best relative possession numbers on the Blueshirts. He also showed a lot of courage and gamesmanship by dropping the gloves with Max Pacioretty in the first round.

For the record Pacioretty had 20 pounds on Vesey (and it looked it). There’s no doubt who won the scrap, but the Rangers rookie showed a lot of fire and savvy by trading fists with Montreal’s captain. Vesey took two minor penalties in the playoffs, one of which was a roughing penalty that preceded the scrap with Pacioretty and was cancelled out by a cross-checking penalty.

Again, not bad for a rookie.

There were a few games, especially in the series against Montreal, where Vesey was hardly noticeable. But he finished his first postseason with three points in his last five games, including two primary points in Game 5. Vesey stepped up.

Vesey wasn’t part of the Rangers power play problem, he found ways to contribute outside of his finishing ability - something that eluded him in the regular season and he turned it on when the Rangers were under the gun.

Not bad at all.