Prior to tonight’s faceoff between the first place Rangers and second place Penguins in Pittsburgh, I just wanted to update you on a couple of news items.
Rather than recall someone from Hartford, the Rangers put a claim in for forward Matt Puempel. The 23-year old from Essex, Ontario is in his third year. A former standout for the Kitchener Rangers ironically of the Ontario Hockey League, Puempel once pumped home 35 goals and 12 assists in 51 games for Kitchener in ’12-13.
In 2011, Ottawa made him a first round selection taking him number 24 overall. After scoring 30 once for Binghamton in ’13-14, he spent one more year with the AHL affiliate before getting recalled. He went 2-1-3 in both ’14-15 and ’15-16 in 39 NHL games. This season, he went without a point in 13.
So, the Blueshirts take a gamble and see if Puempel can figure it out. He was a first round pick. But it seems he’s more a shoot first mentality. A lefty shot, he has good speed and came from a good junior hockey program. It’s just whether he’ll become someone who can contribute regularly.
The Rangers got good news on Pavel Buchnevich. The 21-year old Russian underwent an MRI for his back. There was no structural damage. Coach Alain Vigneault revealed that Buchnevich should miss another three weeks. He’ll have to strengthen the core before returning. That’s a lot better than I expected. They definitely miss his skill on the power play.
For tonight’s first of two meetings in a home-and-home series with the Pens, Vigneault has gone with four different lines. They are as follows:
It’s the same D. Not sure I agree since it’s a back-to-back. They already got scored on. Jake Guentzel scored his first career NHL goal. It sounded like a bad goal by backup Antti Raanta. He’s going against Marc-Andre Fleury. Henrik Lundqvist returns for Wednesday’s rematch at MSG.