When it comes to learning experiences, Sunday was one of them for the young Rangers, who got one point and the opportunity to secure a second by beating them 3-2 against them with less than half a minute ahead allow.
"We need to learn how to manage pucks and make the right decisions at the right time," Brady Skjei told The Post after Oliver Bjorkstrand's 2-1 third-round goal against the blue jackets 2-1 against the blues shirts in a low -End race had defeated. Event, low-energy match in the garden. “We have to be smart throughout the game and understand situational hockey in the last minute or two.
"We have to recognize the right game and then we have to do it."
The Rangers came into play after scoring 41 goals in the last 10 games and being the sixth best club in the league per game. They had partially reached these numbers by relying on a power game that went 10-for-29 along this route. That night the blueshirts didn't deserve a man's advantage.
And they have done little to question Matiss Kivlenieks, the 23-year-old Latvian who made his NHL debut for his team on the second night of a duel. The jackets played conservatively and were protected with 1-2-2 from the start. Kivlenieks was rarely under pressure, the blueshirts were unable to get a second shot over long stretches of the game, while Columbus had difficulty getting the first shot at Igor Shesterkin.
"It's almost as if we have too much time," said Skjei of the methodical pace. "It's like we played in their hands."
This is a two-lane season. Management and the coaching team have always been focused on development, but do not come at the expense of winning hockey games or pushing the playoffs. The same applies to the players. That was the story and they all stick to it.
But with nine points behind the second wildcard Carolina and a few games in hand and five teams (including Toronto) that have to overcome the hurdle to reach a postseason, the Rangers have to win more than two in a row at some point. They did this exactly once this season in the three games before Thanksgiving.
Otherwise, the blueshirts have won twice what they did when fighting the islanders last week, six times in a row. But it stopped there. Five weeks before February 24, two straight and two just won't consider a single endangered species to be a late Broadway indictment.
Artemi Panarin had a normal night at both ends of the ice at best. Ryan Strome, who was fairly inconspicuous throughout, made a remarkably bad change on the last rush of jackets that helped Björkstrand knock you off against a helpless Shesterkin. And Pavel Buchnevich was downgraded to the fourth row a shift to the third period.
Buchnevich has been struggling with flu-like symptoms for most of the past few weeks. Maybe that's part of the explanation. David Quinn quoted how # 89 had been "sick" recently when he explained why he had turned Buchnevich with Brendan Lemieux after the December 27 broken hand that had paused him for the last nine competitions. Buchnevich has been in the last 10 games with Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider on the right, starting with this match against the Hurricanes.
"I didn't think he'd have it tonight," said Buchnevich's coach, whose fights were highlighted during a late second shift in which he turned the puck a few times while his line was clamped and he was caught for 2:13.
But even though he was a fixture in the top six and on the second Powerplay unit, Buchnevich didn't cause much trouble. In fact, the Russian winger has scored one goal (and three assists) in the last 13 games. In the last 23 games, he has scored two goals (and four assists).
And since the bulk of the final trade talk was focused on Kreider, Strome, Tony DeAngelo and Alexandar Georgiev, Buchnevich is sure to be a topic of conversation in the Executive Suite when February 24th approaches.
This applies regardless of whether the Rangers are still in or on the verge of a playoff hunt.