Pirri back in to help power play, Buchnevich sits

When the Rangers take on the Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre, they’ll do so with Brandon Pirri back in the lineup. He fell out of favor losing the fourth line center job to Oscar Lindberg. Lindberg has been solid in limited action with Jesper Fast and Pavel Buchnevich.

However, Buchnevich will sit this one out. The second time he’s been a healthy scratch. Pirri will be looked to to help spark a struggling power play. They’re 1 for the last 15 over the last seven games and 3 for the last 33 and 4 for the last 35 over a longer stretch. Basically, they’ve gone from a top 10 power play to the middle of the pack clicking at 19.4 percent.

Indecision and turnovers have led to two shorthanded goals over the stretch including a baffling 2-on-5 shorthanded game-winner in a frustrating 4-2 loss against the Islanders. The power play has allowed three shorthanded goals. But if you think about it, they’ve scored four power play goals and allowed two shorthanded goals in the last 35 attempts. That’s pathetic. Here is Pirri talking to MSG reporter Amanda Gorges Borges on what he can bring:

As for Buchnevich, I hate the fact that he isn’t playing. Leave it to the coaching staff to not know what to do with the gifted 21-year old Russian rookie. Before he fell out of the top nine, he was basically a point-per-game player who had solid chemistry with Mika Zibanejad and was effective on the power play. He has cooled down. But it’s hard to produce in limited ice-time. He’s 6-9-15 in 26 games.

If they even think about including him in a trade for Kevin Shattenkirk, I’ll loose it. It would be a huge mistake. Shattenkirk is going to be moved. According to TSN insider Darren Dreger, the Blues don’t want to lose the right defenseman for nothing like they have David Backes and Troy Brouwer last summer. They want to maximize Shattenkirk’s value as a rental. He is attractive due to his skill set. A very good skating right D with terrific puck possession and offensive capabilities. But the idea you have to give up a high level prospect, a first round pick and possibly another asset is ludicrous.

The Rangers better not do it. I would rather them wait for the summer. If he wants to be here so badly, he can sign on the dotted line. Just what we need. Another long-term contract with probably a no-move clause. Sorry. I just had to.

Toronto will be without Mitch Marner. That’s too bad. I enjoy watching him. But Auston Matthews and the rest of a talented Leafs team in playoff position should make it a good game.


About Derek Felix

Derek Felix is sports blogger whose previous experience included separate stints at ESPN as a stat researcher for NHL and WNBA telecasts. The Staten Island native also interned for or hockey historian Stan Fischler and worked behind the scenes for MSG as a production assistant on New Jersey Devil telecasts. An avid New York sports fan who enjoys covering events, writing, concerts, movies and the outdoors, Derek has covered consecutive Staten Island Yankees NY Penn League championships in '05 and '06. He also scored Berkeley Carroll high school basketball games from '06-14 and provided an outlet for the Park Slope school's student athletes. Hitting Back gives them the publicity they deserve. In his free time, he also attends Ranger games and is a loyal St. John's alum with a sports management degree. The Battle Of New York administrator and chief editor can be followed below on Twitter and Facebook.
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