2:03PM: David Quinn spoke on Thursday after the morning skate and said (NYR):
- On the line changes and Kakko, “that plays a role when you make a decision like that but as I’ve said a lot, when you make one change to the lines you make a domino effect to all the lines. There was a lot of thought put into who we would put with Mika, Panarin and when we did decide to make that change, this was how we felt was going to be our best chance to have a successful lineup and put certain guys in situations where they have a better chance to have success.”
- On Kakko on the top line, “it’s also a mindset, 18-years old, you step into this league and it can be overwhelming at times, especially for someone who was picked 2nd overall and comes from another country and there are a lot of moving parts to it and we want to put him in a position to have the best success possible and he works hard, puts a lot of pressure on himself. When you show up at the rink and you have Mika as your center, you are going to feel better.”
- Is Kakko on the first PP, “no, we are going to leave those PP units the same. We feel good about both of our PP units.”
- On breaking up Mika and Panarin to have more depth, “yea, that certainly played a role in it.”
- On Brendan Smith, “he competes, you throw a puck in the corner that is not a guy you want to be there with. It’s something we need more out of out of a lot of guys, he can make a play, shoot a puck. Makes the opposing team uncomfortable, done a great job on the PK.”
- On the challenge against Buffalo, “they are feeling really good about themselves, as they should, they playing well, playing fast, they are opportunistic. We are going to have to manage the puck and make sure we are not fueling their offense and pay attention to Eichel.”
- How quickly can things change, “like I said after our game the other night, we are in a rut and we have to dig our way out of it and you hope that it goes from one extreme to another but sometimes that doesn’t happen and you have to slowly dig your way out of it. We did get a point the other night, I thought yesterday was a big step moving forward, our practice as good, our guys felt pretty good about some of the things they accomplished and their work ethic. They seem to be in a good mindset right now.”
- On the defensemen as a group, “We all need to be better defensively and a big part of being good defensively is getting out of your own end, breakouts, supporting the guy who has the puck, we all have to work harder for the guy with the puck, you can’t hide, gotta make yourself available and an outlet, we haven’t done a great job of that, that is something we worked on yesterday and will continue to harp on. There is a lot that goes into d-zone coverage and breakouts are a big piece of it. We have to spend less time in our end, get back for pucks quicker and communicate quicker to get out.”
- On Hajek and Fox, “I like them both, I like the direction they are going, where their game is at and both of them want to learn and work hard, happy with where they are at.”
- Any discussions on calling players up, “we talk about that daily and day to day we are in different situations, that is discussed quite often.”
- On Chytil potentially being called back up, “it’s just continue to do what they are doing down there. With what we have going up here there are things you consider when you make those decisions. I know he is doing very well down there and if he continues to play to the level we know he is capable of playing he will be back here.”
12:43PM: The Rangers host the Buffalo Sabres at MSG tonight as they look to end a five game losing streak.
For the first time this season the Rangers are splitting up Mika Zibanejad and Artemi Panarin and will use the following lines:
- Chris Kreider, Mika Zibanejad, Kaapo Kakko
- Artemi Panarin, Ryan Strome, Pavel Buchnevich
- Brendan Lemieux, Brett Howden, Jesper Fast
- Greg McKegg, Lias Andersson, Brendan Smith
Henrik Lundqvist will be in net for the Rangers.
The Sabres are 8-1-1 to start the season and rank first in the NHL with 17 points.
The Sabres are led by Jack Eichel (6 goals, 8 assists in 10 games), Rasmus Dahlin (1 goal, 9 assists in 10 games), Victor Olofsson (6 goals, 3 assists in 10 games), Jeff Skinner (6 goals, 2 assists in 10 games) and Sam Reinhart (4 goals, 4 assists in 10 games).
The Sabres also feature former Ranger Jimmy Vesey who has 2 assists in 10 games and is averaging 12:10 per game.
The Rangers traded Vesey to Buffalo on July 1 for Buffalo’s 3rd round pick in 2021. He was dealt partially as a way for the Rangers to clear cap space and sign Artemi Panarin.
Adam Rotter: The Rangers get their second, maybe third-straight game, of non-playoff teams that may be turning the corner towards the playoffs. The Sabres are getting great goaltending and have a lot of offense to support Carter Hutton. It’s a game where the Rangers are going to need to continue to raise their battle level, urgency and make smart plays with the puck.
Up front the Rangers are going with a new look, reuniting a duo in Kreider and Zibanejad that has had success in the past and shifting Artemi Panarin to play with Strome and Buchnevich as way to both spread things out and get more players going offensively. Panarin and Buchnevich have had some nice chemistry at times this season and Strome is a smart player that should fit with them. Kreider and Zibanejad not only reunite but get Kaapo Kakko in Kakko’s first chance with Zibanejad.
As for Jimmy Vesey, ultimately he disappointed with the Rangers and seems to be in more of a defensive role with Buffalo. He was just never able to be the player he was hyped to be and while he certainly had flashes and stretches, they were never consistent. It wouldn’t be a shock if he gets his first goal with the Sabres against the Rangers and Lundqvist because that is what former Rangers tend to do.