The Rangers got back to their winning way with a 6-2 win Friday against the Sabres. Fllip Chytil was a healthy scratch while Brady Skjei left the game with an injury. Fredrik Claesson is ready to return to action, which could come Sunday against the Penguins. Alexandar Georgiev, who defeated Buffalo, will be between the pipes against Pittsburgh.
A few thoughts
1) Friday, the secondary scoring
that has been lacking for so long finally produced. On a night where the top line was shut out, the second-fourth lines produced all the scoring. Namestnikov, who ended a 23-game goal drought dating to Dec. 18, tallied twice, though both came with the net empty, one on purpose and one not so much. Jimmy Vesey, thanks to a brilliant feed from Kevin Hayes, scored, as did Pavel Buchnevich, Jesper Fast (first in 19 games) and Boo Nieves (first in 14 games). That's two goals from the second line, three from the third line and one from the fourth line.
2) Going with 11/7 worked Friday,
as Smith, recruited as a forward by Quinn at Boston University and who has played better of late, moved back to defense when Brady Skjei left the game with an unidentified lower-body injury at 8:57 of the second period. The bottom two forwards were rotated in sporadically with those on the second and third line while the d-pairings were juggled a bit.
3) Filip Chytil
was a healthy scratch. The move wasn't shocking, as Chytil had hit a wall recently and seen his ice time decline as a result. Quinn felt the consistent effort hasn't been there, making the 19-year old center a press box denizen for the second time this season. Quinn has been speaking to Chytil, so the scratching should not have come as a big surprise, and the requirements to remain on the ice was spelled out by Hayes (see below). Every rookie goes through this and Chytil is no different from them. As of now, it's not clear if Chytil will dress Sunday, though he is unlikely to be out much longer beyond that if he doesn't play. Brendan Smith played on the fourth line with Nieves and Connor Brickley, with that trio having a solid game.
4) Hayes on Quinn
: "“Quinney demands hard work. He doesn’t care how long you’ve been here or who you are. If you don’t work hard, you’re not going to play. That runs right through the lineup. If you’re not having a good skills game, you’d better have a strong work ethic, play with energy and move your feet. If not, you’re not playing. That’s a major motivating force. Everyone is held accountable. He may yell a lot, but he gets his points across. So that drives us." Hayes states what has been the case all year, Accountability is a requirement from this coach. Hard work is non-negotiable. The same applies to everyone.
stopped 31 shots to notch his third straight win. Quinn is rewarding Georgie with a start Sunday against the Penguins with Henrik Lundqvist to go Tuesday versus Carolina. Lundqvist and Georgiev may not split starts the rest of the season, but the rookie has additional time between the pipes, which he should continue to receive the final third of the season.
David Quinn Post-Practice
Lines for tomorrow are up in the air
Claesson will seemingly return from his 13-game absence due to a shoulder injury tomorrow. I don't see him as a fit with McQuaid, as I much prefer him with Kevin Shattenkirk, who other than one horrible turnover, leading to a save on Tage Thompson from in front of the net, was solid against Buffalo or Tony DeAngelo. With Skjei out, Shattenkirk, ADA and Neal Pionk (with a bad chase of the puck behind the net, leaving Jeff Skinner open in front for a goal Friday) are the puck movers and each should be paired with more of a defensive defenseman in Claesson, McQuaid, Smith or Marc Staal rather than having two blueliners who are better in their own zone on the same duo.
The name alone is worth posting this tweet
. Lots of rumors on Zucc with Nashville mentioned previously, same with Calgary, maybe Colorado, Winnipeg, Dallas and others in the mix. But that also may depend on if you believe Larry Brooks or Rick Carpinello and others who side with Carp.
The Post has learned that general manager Jeff Gorton is now engaged in an ongoing dialogue with the agents for pending free agents Mats Zuccarello and Kevin Hayes as the Blueshirts weigh extending the contracts of two of their best players against the return they might get for either or both on the market....The Blueshirts appear to have approximately $25 million with which to work next season, though the team could clear approximately $7.5 million of space by buying out Kevin Shattenkirk and Brendan Smith (latter maybe, former less likely, these are my views). Signing Hayes and Zuccarello would likely amount to between $11.5-and-$12 million
But here’s what won’t happen. Gorton and the Rangers won’t change their minds here and keep Hayes and Zuccarello....The talk about Zuccarello returning as a free agent July 1 is a possibility, remote perhaps, but it most certainly is not the plan. Ditto for Hayes.
I agree with Jimbo, who said "wouldn't be surprised if Rangers are happy to put this out there to make potential suitors panic that we aren't trading them." It's trying to create leverage. Once/if Mark Stone goes, maybe the market place opens. Even with the win and 8-5-1 mark, the Rangers (25-24-8), who have scored at least three goals in 11 of their past 15 games, trail the Carolina Hurricanes by 10 points for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference. In addition, New York is nine points behind Pittsburgh, who they play today, with the Penguins a point behind Carolina. So making the playoffs is a very unlikely scenario.
Maybe Zucc and Hayes re-sign with the team. Maybe the Blueshirts are gauging that level of interest, including years and dollars required so they have a possible sense of the contract requirements for each. As I said in the past, I think each will be like Rick Nash and Ryan McDonagh last season, moving on the final weekend and trade deadline day. My thoughts on both are well known. I would have no issue with both returning and if the offer is underwhelming, I prefer not giving either away, setting a precedent for the future. But adding assets and picks are key for the rebuild, as well as freeing up salary, possibly by buyout, maybe Smith or Ryan Strome, less likely Shattenkirk, as I said above, to take a run at Artemi Panarin etc.
Brooks' Slap Shots column
had a little more on Hayes and Zucc, though much was the same as has been written in the past. I did find this piece interesting. Cue the speculation now...
Lou Lamoriello, too, is always interested in A) Improving blue line depth that is necessary for a deep playoff run; and, B) Adam McQuaid-type players.
Sportsnet on trading deadline (Stone, Duchene etc):
So why not the actual McQuaid, who is believed under scrutiny by Tampa Bay?