COLUMBUS, Ohio — Pavel Buchnevich’s game has been likened to “going to an amusement park,” and his pouts have earned the moniker of “Captain Happy.” But he has managed to string together some consistency in his game, and the Rangers couldn’t be happier.
Buchnevich scored his second goal in as many games to help the Rangers to a 3-1 victory over the Blue Jackets on Friday night. The 24-year-old Russian winger has 10 points in his past 10 games, including six of his 13 goals this season during that stretch. But more importantly for coach David Quinn — the author of the comedic descriptions above — is the way Buchnevich has played away from the puck.
“The thing about Buchnevich, he’s doing all the things that maybe a scorer usually doesn’t do,” Quinn said Friday night. “His defense has gotten a lot better. He makes a heck of a play defensively in the third period coming by our bench, back-checking, he makes a great poke check and we go the other way…. His wall play was really good. He was in a great position defensively.”
His line with Mika Zibanejad (assist, plus-2) and Chris Kreider (goal and assist) finished this three-game road-trip sweep with a combined 12 points.
“That line has been really good for us,” Quinn said.
Defenseman Tony DeAngelo sat out for the first time this season after suffering an upper-body injury late in Thursday’s game. DeAngelo was leading the Rangers’ defensemen with 13 goals and 30 points (sixth in the league among defensemen). Quinn wasn’t anticipating being without the 24-year-old blueliner for very long.
“This is going to be short-term,” Quinn said.
Quinn said goalie Igor Shesterkin is “close” to being able to return from the minor ankle injury he suffered Tuesday night.
“I don’t want to say couldn’t have [played Friday],”Quinn said, “but the right thing to do is to not play him.”
Defenseman Marc Staal played, though he was a game-time decision after missing Thursday’s game with a quick onset of the flu.
That made 20-year-old Joey Keane, called up from AHL Hartford on Friday morning, a scratch.
Brendan Smith stayed in for the second straight game on defense, as the defenseman-turned-winger returned to his longtime position. He played 12:44 in place of DeAngelo on the right side next to Staal.