How’s this for a little March Madness? The Glass slipper still fits.
Alain Vigneault left the door ajar, gave himself some wiggle room in saying he wasn’t 100 percent sure about his lineup for Friday’s home game against the Panthers, whom the coach wanted to watch Thursday night, but the indications at Thursday’s practice were that Pavel Buchnevich again will be coming out of the lineup with the return of Jesper Fast from injury, and Tanner Glass will remain in.
Buchnevich worked on an extra fifth line during practice while Glass stayed in his spot on the fourth. Fast worked on the third line ahead of his anticipated return Friday after missing the previous seven games with a left shoulder injury suffered on an Alex Ovechkin hit on Feb. 28.
“I would say a little bit inconsistent,” Vigneault said about Buchnevich’s game. “There’s some plays that I need him to make, especially in our end, that would make his line and his linemates spend less time in our zone. But consistency is one thing that I think he needs to work on. He’s a young player. He’s gonna figure it out.”
There have been ups-and-downs for Buchnevich, the skilled 21-year-old Russian rookie, over the seven NHL games he’s played since his one-game stint in Hartford on March 1 after being scratched for four of six NHL games.
It’s also true that the veteran Glass has made a positive impact during his five games since being called up from Hartford, providing the Rangers with some punch, energy and a few smart plays while they had some injuries at forward. Glass, who was waived at the end of camp and was in the AHL all season, has value in the locker room and as a grit guy when required, but potentially sitting Buchnevich would be a curious decision given his playmaking ability.
The Rangers certainly will benefit from having Fast back in the fold. He’s one of Vigneault’s most trustworthy players who makes smart decisions and will help a penalty kill which has allowed five power-play goals over the last four games.
“I think he’s starting to realize – I hope he’s starting to realize – he’s a pretty good example of how we want to play at times for our forward group,” Ryan McDonagh said of Fast. “Guys really love the way he battles and competes.”
Fast doesn’t get as much recognition externally as others despite a strong work ethic and the ability to seamlessly transition to different roles when needed, but he’s not considered unsung to his teammates.
“Not for our group,” McDonagh said. “Maybe to the outside looking in. I think he sets a pretty good example for us. We go back and watch tape of games, he’s standing out a lot. Very consistent in his game, too.”
Henrik Lundqvist (hip strain) is “feeling a lot better,” Vigneault said. He skated for two days and will continue to skate every day unless he needs rest. Dan Girardi (ankle wound) practiced but won’t play this weekend. Kevin Klein (back spasms) skated for the second straight day.
Published at Thu, 16 Mar 2017 23:25:41 +0000