NEW YORK — In the last three games, Pavel Buchnevich finally found his game with four points while averaging 15 minutes of ice time – and then he broke his thumb on Saturday in Columbus, the team announced on Monday.
“Obviously…the last few games he’s been productive offensively and doing all the things he needs to do to be the player he’s capable of being,” said Rangers head coach David Quinn following Monday’s morning skate. “It’s unfortunate [he’s] out for this extended period of time.”
Buchnevich will miss 4-6 weeks with the injury. He had six points in his last six games, perhaps responding to tough love from Quinn, the new Rangers coach who scratched him three times already this season.
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Overall, the talented — though enigmatic — Buchnevich has nine points in 14 games, recording five goals and four assists.
“It’s tough, it’s hard, not just for himself,” commented Zibanejad, who scored off a pretty feed from a patient Buchnevich on Saturday. “He started to play more, he started to play better with more confidence. You hate to see that happen to any guy, but that’s a part of it, unfortunately. We’re just hoping for a speedy recovery and obviously, I’m going to miss him but other guys get to step up now, get more ice time and hopefully do the best.”
What a move by Buch to set up the Mika ?#NYR pic.twitter.com/QNOai3tmTu
— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) November 11, 2018
Buchnevich, who has 72 points in 129 career games, also added a tally on Saturday off a 2-on-1 with Jimmy Vesey.
“It’s huge, it’s huge,” said Kevin Shattenkirk regarding the setback for the right wing. “He seemed to really be starting to go in the right direction and playing his best hockey. He was a key factor in our win the other night [against Columbus]. So. we’re going to have to fill in for him. There’s a big, big void there but we got a lot of guys who I think have been out of the lineup that are just a fraction away from being staples in our lineup. Now’s their chance to take it and run with it.”
Entering Monday night’s game against Vancouver, the Rangers have a hole on the right side as Zuccarello will miss his third straight game Monday and is not expected to dress until Thursday. As of now, the team is sitting pat and not making any call-ups.
So, the question for the Rangers now is, who will step up? Could 2017 first-round pick Lias Andersson, who will be facing friend and Swedish national teammate Elias Pettersson Monday, be that player? Or will it be fellow 2017 first-round pick Filip Chytil, who Quinn acknowledged hasn’t had adequate ice time? Or will it be a defenseman that will be moved up?
“I don’t think they’ll be putting me up there any time soon,” said offensive-defenseman Shattenkirk with a smile. “Last year [Tony] DeAngelo played a little bit of forward and again I think that was an experimental thing. I don’t see that happening anytime soon.”
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He added with a laugh and an even bigger smile, “I think the guys we have on the back end are good where they are. It’s a tall task to ask us to go up there and do something special.”
Regardless of who steps up, Shattenkirk knows now is the time for it to happen.
“We have [Zuccarello] and [Buchnevich] out and those are two key pieces to our team,” he noted. “We have to make sure that the next guy up is ready to play and it’s been that way all year. Even without injuries guys coming in and out of the lineup, they’re stepping in and competing and that’s all we’re really asking for is hard work.”