Let The Coach, Coach

Buchnevich USATSI

St. Patrick’s day and Rangers coach, Alain Vigneault commits the mortal sin of scratching Pavel Buchnevich over Tanner Glass.  New York Rangers senior beat reporter, Larry Brooks wrote an article stating that “the Rangers are nuts for benching Pavel Buchnevich” and with that, 5 gallons of gasoline was poured onto a fire burning in some Rangers fans passions.

Tanner Glass who was banished to the minors up until 6 games ago playing for Buchnevich who is the Rangers most talented rookie. However, it seems that some of us are forgetting something.

AV seems to have a solid track record for developing young Rangers

There are several things to consider in this matter. Alain Vigneault has done an excellent job getting the fine young talent to develop, and reach their potential. Chris Kreider, J.T. Miller, and Kevin Hayes are all having their best seasons so far. Brady Skjei is having a fantastic season. Throw in Jesper Fast and Oscar Lindberg filling support roles very nicely.

Let’s not forget how Kreider, Miller and Mats Zucarello developed under John Torterella. They did not. Along the way, all of the aforementioned players had been a healthy scratch at one time or another. In fact, in 2012, it was an early season benching of Zucarello that jump started his productive career. After sitting one game he went on to put up 10 points in the next 10 games. I think we may owe the coach a little latitude here.

Vesey (MSG)

The Condensed Schedule

Fellow rookie Jimmy Vesey has never played more than 37 games in a season, in his 4 year college career. Buchnevich, last year, played 58 regular season games, and 14 playoff games. Both of these forwards are playing a lot of games in a short amount of time, with the condensed schedule.

For both, it’s part of the learning process of being a pro. As Anthony Scultore pointed out, Buchnevich has 5 points in his last 20 games. Vesey has 1 in his last 12. With all of these back to backs, I would not be surprised to see Vesey get some time off also. Many times I’ve heard hockey players say how much sitting out and watching from a different perspective has helped. The coach has to be very careful with these rookies and their confidence, as well as the toll the rigors of the season takes on them physically.


Al Bello/Getty Images North America

My One Criticism

If I had to pick at one thing that bugs me about the lines, and the lineup, it’s Jesper Fast being included in the top 9 forwards. To me he should be on the fourth line with Lindberg, who he has great chemistry with, and whichever left wing is dressed.

Offensive players like Buchnevich and Vesey belong with other offensive players in the top 9. If circumstances dictate, like a third period lead, AV can, and has, flip-flopped Fast into the top 9.
Coach Vigneault knows exactly what we all know. The Rangers are practically cemented into the first wild card spot. He will be experimenting with the lines. Seeking to find the best combos heading into the playoffs. Twitter was also buzzing about breaking up the Hayes, Grabner, Miller combo. He knows that line works well. I think he is trying to find a combination that gets Rick Nash going.

Growing Pains

With all of the young players I have mentioned, there were growing pains. There was “tough love”. But in each case the young Ranger with potential, progressed. Because the Rangers have traded so many first and second round picks, it is imperative that they develop what they have properly. Vesey and Buchnevich are in good hands. Recent history tells us this. J.T. Miller had a really bad habit of making low percentage, risky, passes in the defensive zone. He has ironed that habit out of his game. AV will get this years’ rookies to fulfill their potential. He has before, and he will again.