COLUMBUS, Ohio – Pavel Buchnevich's game was compared to "going to an amusement park", and his pouty mouthpieces have been nicknamed "Captain Happy". But he did manage to achieve some consistency in his game, and the Rangers couldn't be happier.
Buchnevich scored his second goal in as many games to help Rangers win 3-1 over the Blue Jackets on Friday night. The 24-year-old Russian winger has scored 10 points in his last 10 games, including six of his 13 goals this season on this route. More important to coach David Quinn – the author of the comedic descriptions above – is how Buchnevich got away from the puck.
"The thing with Buchnevich is that he does all the things a goal scorer doesn't normally do," said Quinn on Friday night. “His defense has gotten a lot better. He plays a damn defensive game in the third phase, when he passes our bank. He's doing a great poke check and we're going the other way … His wall game was really good. He was defensive in a great position. "
His line with Mika Zibanejad (Assist, plus-2) and Chris Kreider (Goal and Assist) ended this road trip in three games with a total of 12 points.
"This line was really good for us," said Quinn.
Defender Tony DeAngelo dropped out for the first time this season after suffering an upper body injury late Thursday. DeAngelo led the Rangers defenders with 13 goals and 30 points (sixth in the league among defenders). Quinn hadn't expected to be without the 24-year-old Blueliner for very long.
"This will be short term," said Quinn.
Quinn said goalkeeper Igor Shesterkin was "on the verge" of returning from his minor ankle injury on Tuesday night.
"I don't want to say that I couldn't have done it [played Friday]"Said Quinn," but the right thing is not to play him. "
Defender Marc Staal played despite having made a game time decision after missing the game on Thursday with a quick flu outbreak.
That made 20-year-old Joey Keane, who was called by AHL Hartford on Friday morning, a scratch.
Brendan Smith remained on the defensive for the second game in a row when the defender who became the winger returned to his longstanding position. He played 12:44 instead of DeAngelo on the right next to Staal.