Some thoughts on the lineup changes

February 16, 2017, by
pavel buchnevich

Bruce Bennet/Getty Images

Much was made yesterday when news broke that Alain Vigneault would be scratching Pavel Buchnevich for a game, subbing in Matt Puempel. I’m actually glad I wasn’t around to peruse the Twitters yesterday, because I’m sure I would have lost my mind. I did see a few reactions, and I have to admit, it’s really not worth getting all worked up over this.

I understand that a lot of folks are sensitive to Vigneault’s lineup choices. The defense choices this year alone would make anyone cringe. I understand that last year scarred people for life, as Tanner Glass was routinely in the lineup over significantly more skilled forwards. I get it. But let’s also be clear that sitting a rookie for a game in the middle of a slump can be an educational tool.

Buchnevich has one assist in his last ten games. He’s lost his top-nine spot on the team, as Michael Grabner has clicked with Kevin Hayes and JT Miller. Sure, he’s likely not going to light up the opposition playing with Jesper Fast and one of Oscar Lindberg or Brandon Pirri. But when you take a step back and look at the bigger picture, watching the game from above has worked for players in the past.

The argument I hear thrown out there is that Jimmy Vesey didn’t get scratched during his struggles. This is very true. However it’s not like the Rangers were fully healthy at that point either. The Rangers haven’t had 14 healthy forwards for most of the year, and didn’t during Vesey’s struggles. Timing matters.

As an aside, it’s not like the Rangers are playing a vastly inferior skater over Buchnevich either. Puempel is skilled, and was once considered to have as high a ceiling as Buchnevich. It’s not like the moves of past, where an enforcer would play over a skilled player. This barely moves the needle.

Sitting Buchnevich is likely a temporary move. He will get one, maybe two, games to sit in the press box and watch live action and compare to tape. If Puempel goes on a run, then perhaps Buchnevich sits longer. This isn’t the hill to die on when it comes to roster moves. At least not for me.

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Categories : Lineup Changes


  1. John R says:

    At least someone is being rational about this.

  2. pas44 says:

    AV is scrutinized as much as Trump. Gimme a break, the team is playing well, at the top of the league, with a defensive hand that is lacking…to say the least.

    Last year people were losing it about who AV handled Miller and Hayes too…
    cough cough… both stellar this year…

    Buch and Vesey need to grow… I am fine with AV after seeing the progress on players from last year to this year… including where Glass ended up too… lol

    mean stretch of games coming up now though!!! winning teams, rivals… February will show us plenty


  3. Spozo says:

    I hate to nitpick but who were the “significantly more skilled” players who sat last year?

    • Ray says:

      I can outnitpick. Dave actually said “significantly more skilled” and not “significantly better” – or for that matter even better. Certainly AV did not have significantly better options last year – and maybe not even better options. But Glass was a low skill grit player and there were probably more skilled players at Greenville.

      Most people here are in love with skill and think it is the same as excellence, while a few tend to underestimate its importance.

      • Spozo says:

        I agree on the skill vs better argument.

        I just thought the whole point of the article was that the current lineup decision doesn’t really “move the needle” while Glass vs James Shepard, or whoever was in the AHL, didn’t either!

  4. SalMerc says:

    Buch only shows periods of superior hockey sense. He also goes unnoticed for shifts. He lags behind some plays and seems not as fully engaged as he can be at times.

    A game in the pressbox won’t kill him. It didn’t kill JT and it didn’t kill Hayes. It got into their heads and made them better players. Maybe the same can be done for this young budding superstar.

  5. Andy says:

    Maybe they want to showcase Puempel as a trade chip? Now would be the time to do that. Like or dislike AV, you can rightly be critical of some of his decisions; but look at Miller and Hayes. A little tough love..maybe a lot in JT’s case went a long way…

    • pas44 says:

      I thought the same thing. Puempel had some good moments, so he can come in, play well and we trade him.

      Then because I am an idiot, I kept thinking, we trade him for an amazing deal, get defense, win the cup…

      I need to stop thinking so much, but I can’t…

      I am doomed Ranger fan who wants the cup!


      • Andy says:

        I am right there with you on can’t stop thinking about the Rangers. Puempel ain’t bringing back Shattenkirk or any big fish we covet, but he could be a useful piece in a bigger trade.
        One thing we call all agree on..We want the cup!

    • Ray says:

      Also, sometimes it is good to get guys in so they stay sharp when needed.

  6. joe719 says:

    Hes only a kid at the start of his career. Its not like they’re sitting a young Wayne Gretzky. The team is doing well, and they can afford the luxury of benching him at this point. Let him take a breath—-and see how he reacts. They’re not giving up on him. It worked with Miller, lets see how it plays out.

  7. pas44 says:

    its an obvious coaching move, he just moved up in lines, now sitting, AV has some sort of play in mind to get this kid kickstarted in some way…

    or perhaps he has something to do with the Russian embassy and he was facilitating the talks between Flynn and the Russian embassy…

    thats probable whats happening…

    • Kris says:


      Maybe Im not the only on that thinks Buch is a spy lol. Strange how he needed to “build up his core strength” right after the election. Yesterday the spy ship shows up off the coast of LI and AV decides todays the game to scratch him lol. Remember Ovis ESPN “commercial” lol. Ok thats enough political jokes for me.

  8. Peter says:

    I have no problem sitting Buchnevich for a game or two. To me, the kid looks a little worn out at times and still needs to add some muscle to survive in the NHL, so giving him a breather is actually smart.

    I also have no problem with him playing with Oscar because they seem to have decent Chemistry. While Buch hasn’t had a lot of numbers lately, his linemates have played well with him on the line.

    Heck, Peumpel likes to stand in front if the net and doesn’t mind getting beat in to do it. It is worth giving him a little ice time too.

  9. DAVID k says:

    I think they should put Pumpel, Buch and Lindberg for fourth line and scratch Fast and see how that works. Fast just skates around the ice digging pucks out when he gets the puck in center ice just dumps the puck in can’t finish in front of net tries to put puck thru goalie or just shoots wide. He is Glass 2.0. If he is as good as AV says why didn’t team Sweeden have him on the roster?

    • Rod Seiling's Twilight Zone says:

      Anyone who thinks that Fast is Glass 2.0 should have to spend time in the clueless fan penalty box — two seasons having to watch only Arizona Coyotes’ games.

  10. Kris says:

    Gotta say, Im suprised this hasnt turned into an everything AV has done wrong thread and how he ruins players. Unless rookies/young players are considered the upper 1%, they will spend time in the press box, even if vets have less skill or make the same or bigger mistakes. All coaches do it, its part of the process. Its how the player responds that makes or breaks him. Look at Drouin last year stomped his feet and cried when demoted, Yzerman held his ground with not getting a fair offer, when the time came for Drouin to come back up, he put his big boy pants on and went to work.

    Buch was given a chance to play with better skill then Oscar and Fast, injuries happened, chemistry was formed and now Grabner secured his spot in the top 9. Leaving only Vesey and Buch swapping out to the 4th line, its not a bad problem to have.

  11. Lon says:

    In post after post I’ve said Buch didn’t present the basic skill needed in todays
    NHL, skating ability, he is just to slow. He is only effective with 15 feet of the
    goal. AV is a very good judge of talent. It appears more and more of you are starting to come to the same conclusions.

    • Hatrick Swayze says:

      I think you are absurdly short in your evaluation period.

      Year 1- 38 games 19 points
      Year 2- 64 games 43 points
      Year 3- 77 games 73 points

      Year 1- 17 games 9 points
      Year 2- 80 games 37 points
      Year 3- 82 games 77 points

      Year 1- 24 games 15 points (so far)

      Will he pick up like those 2 guys? Maybe, maybe not. But he was able to produce similarly in the KHL at the same age and until he proves otherwise, I’ll give him 3 years to work it out before I would proclaim, “Buch didn’t present the basic skill needed in todays NHL, skating ability, he is just to slow. He is only effective with 15 feet of the goal”.

      One thing I will always lol at is that every fan base has people who want to hitch their wagons to kids and people who say the kids done before they’ve even started. 2 extremes, both extremely reactionary. In my mind, no need for either. Consistent point production takes time, but many signs point to Buchnevich being able to get there eventually. In the meantime, there is plenty to work on- strength, skating, etc….

  12. Rod Seiling's Twilight Zone says:

    Considering Kreider, Hayes, Miller’s development over the past three+ seasons and Skjei’s play this year, any second-guessing regarding AV’s ability to handle young players should really be at a bare minimum.

  13. John R says:

    Obviously this story isn’t about trade targets but wanted to get your thoughts on something. You mention trading Step for a Trouba- Hamilton-esqe defensemen; Carolina is loaded with young defenders. Thoughts on trying to do a a deal involving Step to Carolina for 1-2 of those prospects/younger defensemen? Word on the street is they are looking for a top-line center, which you can make the case Step most certainly is.

    • Dave says:

      In division trade makes that tougher.

      • Walt says:

        They did it with Jordan Staal, and the Pens !!!!!!!!!

      • John R says:

        While I definitely agree, they did trade us Staal last season. (I understand that wasn’t completely apples to apples as Staal wanted to be traded here)

        I just think Step could help solidify them down the middle and we could get a nice young, cost-controlled d-man out of it.

  14. Bloomer says:

    Puempel is a good hockey player as well as Buch as noted above. Puempel needs playing time to develop. Pirri has had his opportunity and hasnt rounded out his game. Av is making good use of his bench.

  15. Walt says:

    Until Buch starts to prove himself more consistently, he should sit if there is a better option. I can’t believe I posted something positive about Marv ………