It may only be one game, but with a new coach at the helm, there are a lot of eyes on David Quinn. As the Rangers embark on this rebuild, player usage is going to become a large factor in the success of the coach. Whereas fans are used to seeing one particular subset of players in any given situation, a new coach means new tendencies.
On Thursday night against Nashville, we saw a changing of the guard, at least based on the shift chart. One shift chart in a game where the Rangers trailed for most of the night doesn’t tell an entire story, but it might tell us who the coach will lean on when trailing at the end of a game.
Going for the low hanging fruit first, Ryan Spooner, Vinni Lettieri, Vlad Namestnikov, Adam McQuaid, Marc Staal, and Brett Howden didn’t see much ice time, if any at all, in the final five minutes of the game. Filip Chytil and Jimmy Vesey also didn’t play after the third period powerplay, but that is more likely due to the pair finishing up that powerplay and then not enough shifts left in the game.
In the first period, it looks like Quinn rolled everyone pretty equally. The first line appears to have received an extra shift or two, but the other trio of lines were rolled evenly. That makes sense for this club. It was a tie game, it was the first game of the season, and none of those four lines are really a “weak link.”
In the second, there was a pretty large gap in playing some players, and it wasn’t necessarily tied to lines. Namestnikov and Chytil saw serious drops in usage. Lettieri got an extra short shift or two, but he was also very limited. Ditto Howden.
Early on, it looks like Quinn will be relying on his veterans and leadership group when trailing. My guess is he will do the same while leading as well. That said, a player like Chytil will eventually work his way into the equation when the Rangers need a goal.
Some interesting tidbits to leave you with:
- Neal Pionk is apparently part of the trusted group when down a goal.
- Pavel Buchnevich saw regular ice time on the top line and in the final minutes.
- Chris Kreider is going to be a major piece of the puzzle.
- It’s very clear Quinn is not going to overwhelm rookies early on.
- Namestnikov does not appear to be one of Quinn’s favorites.