Breaking up the “Kid Line” would be a bad idea

pavel buchnevich jimmy vesey
Photo Credit: AP / Jim Mone

Over the weekend, Alain Vigneault decided to put Pavel Buchnevich, Oscar Lindberg, and Jimmy Vesey together on the fourth line. The trio clicked immediately, despite some concerns they might be defensively deficient. It provides even more evidence to support the speed/skill fourth line over grit/toughness.

Now don’t get me wrong, every team needs snarl. We got a little bit of that last night with a good Old Time Hockey brawl. It wasn’t a staged fight. It was one of passion that involved Vesey dropping the gloves, teamed with Brendan Smith and Nick Holden against three Devils. That same Vesey has been involved in a few other tussles this season.

But the difference between the snarl that we saw last night and the snarl that a Tanner Glass (or a Brandon Prust, Colton Orr, Donald Brashear, etc) doesn’t bring much else to the lineup. Glass is a decent skater and can get in on the forecheck, but skill isn’t something he has. In today’s NHL, skill wins. Not clutch/grab.

So now we have the Buchnevich-Lindberg-Vesey line. Vesey has a goal and a fight since that trio was put together. Lindberg has two goals and an assist. Buchnevich has a pair of assists. They’ve been instrumental in getting the Rangers three of four points in the last two games.

Vigneault is at a crossroads here with roster decisions. He has his hands full with the defense, but the current 12 forwards being dressed are the 12 best forwards on the roster. This should be a no-brainer.

However despite what we may think about the best lineup, AV always has something else on his mind. It would be a big mistake to break up that fourth line though. With that level of talent and skill, they will likely control play with favorable matchups. Depth scoring is critical in the playoffs.

But what do I know? I wouldn’t be shocked if Kevin Klein gets in for Buchnevich at some point.

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      • Jimmy Vesey
        Pavel Buchnevich
        Oscar Lindberg
        Kevin Hayes
        Michael Grabner
        Jesper Fast
        J.T. Miller

        One of the above has to play in the top 6. Which is best suited? Loved the Hayes-Miller-Grabner line for most of the season, but it may just be Miller.
        Other only alternatives in my opinion are Buch and Vesey due to their skill, but Miller is the elder statesman of that group, and should probably be the guy.

        • Wasn’t meant to a be a directly reply to your post 43. Should have been a direct comment to Dave’s post.

  • While the Kid Line has played well, I still think I’d like to see Fast on that line (he also plays well with Oscar) and put Vesey back with Nash and Miller back with Hayes and Grabner. The third line is not as good without Miller, but the 4th will just as good with Fast.

  • Z CK and Buch started the year off well try it again
    Z CK Buch
    Miller Hayes V
    Zucc $tep Nash
    Lind Grab Fast
    Also think Holden needs to watch a few games from upstairs

    • Grabner on the 4th line seems to me to be the exact wrong place for him. With Hayes and Miller he has led the team in goals. I think putting him on a line which gets less ice time and often is called upon to check does not use his skills properly.

  • In the Beginning we had success. I propose these lines for the lineup.

    Rick Nash
    Derek Stepan
    Mats Zuccarello

    Chris Kreider
    Mika Zibanejad
    Pavel Buchnevich

    Jimmy Vesey
    Kevin Hayes
    J.T. Miller

    Michael Grabner
    Oscar Lindberg
    Jesper Fast

  • I get it! Either AV is a genius or an buffoon. A genius if he has the idea that he does not want everyone to know that the Rangers team can play better with the lineup I have above. So he is play and winning (mostly) with the lineup he has out together. When the playoffs starts, he would put the right lines together and the team we are playing against will not be prepared of the offensive juggernaut which we were in the beginning of the season. It’s like poker, you don’t show your hand too early.
    AV is a buffoon if he thinks the the team will play better with the lines he is playing right now.
    Me thinks he is a buffoon.

  • This is a great post Dave. There’s no doubt the whole “speed vs grit” thing is a very polarizing debate out here in the blogosphere and elsewhere.

    I was listening to NHL Network Radio on the drive into work this morning, and Dan Rosen was chatting with the hosts about a variety of topics. The discussion made it’s way over to the situation with the LA Kings, and how they likely will miss the playoffs for the second time in three seasons. The question was, how can the Kings be in this situation? And the answer from the group seemed clear–the Kings were built to be a “heavy, physical, grit” team with talent that can simply wear teams down. We saw that first hand three years ago, and we’ve had many on this blog advocate that that is the kind of team the Rangers should pattern themselves after.

    But in just three years, the conclusion is that the Kings style of play is now totally antiquated. The top teams have doubled down on speed and skill, not physicality and size. I think it was Rosen who said….”EVERY team is patterning themselves that (speed/skill) way now”. And in fact, they speculated that Sutter might be fired because he refuses to change (what, another stubborn coach? I thought AV was the only stubborn coach out there?) :). They also speculated that the Kings may be in for a lengthy rebuilding because they are locked in to so many long term contracts with the “wrong” kind of players–the kind of physical but slow and/or less skilled players that were succesful a mere three years ago are now apparently dying off like the dinosaurs.

    So when we talk about the need for more “grit”, we need to be careful not to lose site of the fact that this is NOT the way SC Champs are now being built. As Dave said, yes of course you have to play with snarl and bite. Yes, you have to play physical and be prepared to battle for 60 minutes. We all get that. But the way the Rangers are being built IS, at least in the opinion of many, the way most succesful teams are being built.

    As I said on the other page, the problem for the Rangers IMO is not a lack of physicality as much as it is a lack of “high-end” skill. Until or unless a few of our guys are able to take that next step, it will be very hard to get past the teams that have those players. We need to be BETTER at what our strengths are, not alter our strengths to go with an approach that apparently is no longer effective (Thus another reason perhaps why AV was retained?)

    So that brings up our favorite player, Tanner Glass. I’ve said from the beginning I’m not a Glass fan per se. My point has been that in the prior two years, there was no real NHL ready options to go with instead. In 2014-15 the team thrived with Glass as a regular player on that team. The stats don’t lie. And last year, he was hardly the reason that we struggled.

    This year, with far more talent to work with (albeit younger and less experienced talent), Glass has been mostly buried in the minors. With injuries and with the Rangers in a bit of a malaise, he was called up. And low and behold, he did provide a spark to the team. It was the right call to play him for this stretch, and it was the right call to sit Buch for a game while the kid was still working on some things that AV wasn’t happy with. Buch came back and has played much better. So all the hue and cry over AV benching poor Buch was, as usual, much ado over nothing.

    So what about going forward? Again, I agree with Dave…the 12 forwards currently playing are the ones that should play. HOWEVER, sometimes, messages need to be sent. Sometimes, energy needs to be injected. Remember in the 2014 Playoffs how AV used Carcillo against certain opponents in certain situations, even though you can argue there were more “talented” options available? My recollection was every time he decided to dress Carcillo, the move paid off.

    And let’s remember that the SC Playoffs can be overwhelming to a first year player. Yes, Buch is playing well. Maybe he and Vesey are finding their second gear and will be ready to shine in the post-season, in a similar way to the way Kreider played when he was called up in 2012. We sure are going to need some of these guys to step up and excel. But you never know how any player will respond to playoff pressure, especially young players.

    So if the Rangers are playing the Canadiens in the first round, and let’s say Buch is simply getting manhandeld out there. Or just looks totally lost. In addition, the Habs are taking some liberties. Would it be the WORST thing to consider dressing Glass in the next game, especially if Buch or whomever seems overwhelmed by the moment?

    As I’ve said before, hockey is the ultimate chemistry experiment. It can’t always be quantified statistically, as many try to do here. There are intangibles that are often impossible to quantify.

    So yes, agree with Dave on his post…with an asterisk. 🙂

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