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Rambler's Top100

Rangers forward Pavel Buchnevich has turned his season around. 
13 2019 . Newsday.com. By Colin Stephenson

"He's been playing good hockey . . . " coach David Quinn said recently. "I'm just really happy where his game's at right now.''

VANCOUVER First-year Rangers coach David Quinn has certainly had his frustrations with Pavel Buchnevich, the young Russian winger whom Quinn has banished to the press box four times this season as a healthy scratch.

But since the last time he was left out of the lineup, Jan. 29 against Minnesota, Buchnevich has seemed to turn things around. Entering Wednesdays game against the Canucks, he had played in 20 straight games, his longest continuous stay in the lineup this season, and he had put up six goals and seven assists in that span. Best of all, he seems to have gained favor with Quinn, who praised him last week after he scored both of the Rangers goals in a 3-2 shootout loss to the Red Wings in Detroit.

Hes been playing good hockey for about three weeks now, Quinn said after that game. Its no coincidence that the way hes been competing and skating, hes been getting rewarded offensively. Thats usually how it works, and Im just really happy where his games at right now.

Quinn had said that in the 1-0 loss to Dallas that preceded the Detroit game, Buchnevich had been one of several Rangers who werent very good. So for him to bounce back against Detroit showed maturity, the coach said. Also in that Detroit game, Quinn put together a third line that had Buchnevich playing with rookie Brett Howden and newcomer Brendan Lemieux. And in the first three games together, entering Wednesday, that line seemed to be working.

Lemieux, who had played seven games with the Rangers since coming over at the trade deadline from Winnipeg in the Kevin Hayes deal, said Buchnevichs skills and creativity complement his own basic, up-and-down game perfectly.

It was apparent since, pretty much Day 1, Buch is highly, highly skilled, Lemieux said. He thinks the game well . . . he doesnt turn too many pucks over, or try too many fancy plays. But hes also got an incredible shot and he can read the game really well. And hes also got the hands to match his shot. As far as skills go, hes up there with the best of them.

At 23, and in his third NHL season, Buchnevich is the veteran on the line, and hes tried to take a leadership role in accepting the responsibility to try and create offense when things are stagnant.

The last couple games, if we dont have a scoring chance, I kind of say, Give me puck, and if youre open, Ill try and find you, Buchnevich said Wednesday. Sometimes this works. I try to create more space for them and try to create for them the scoring chances.

Buchnevich, who has a career-high 15 goals (with 13 assists) in 52 games played, said he has changed his game a little, to try and adapt in his current role. He said, as a third-liner, he is trying to play a more simple, straight up-and-down style than he normally does if he is on one of the top two lines.

I try and play simple hockey, not do stupid things, like turnovers, he said. If you play [on the] first line, you have to produce scoring chances, and that stuff. When you play third line, I think, its less asking you for that. I think Im more [focused on] the defensive zone.

Still, even on the third line, Buchnevich said he cant help freelancing at least a little bit.

In North America . . . Id say, the third and fourth line, the bottom lines, they play more straight [up-and-down] lines, he said. I kind of play all over, and I kind of surprise my linemates they dont know what Im doing. Sometimes this works; sometimes, no. But I try and play my hockey what I do best.


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