In a move that should come as no surprise, it appears that new coach David Quinn will make veteran defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk a healthy scratch for Thursday’s home game against the Sharks. In an ugly 8-5 loss at Carolina on Sunday, he totaled only 7:29 of ice time with 3:22 coming on the power play. It was a eye opening realization that no player is safe from being made an example of.
These aren’t your grandfather’s Rangers anymore. Accountability is part of Quinn’s vocabulary. The country club atmosphere under the old unnamed coach is gone. We’ve already seen Quinn sit out Kevin Hayes and Pavel Buchnevich for shifts in the third period at Buffalo. He went with other players down the stretch who he felt were going in a 3-1 defeat on Saturday. Marc Staal only played 14:20 while Hayes received 12:48. Buchnevich still finished with 15:19.
Quinn hasn’t been shy about moving players around during games. He’s used rookie Brett Howden in different roles due to his uncanny ability to be around the puck. The former Lightning center prospect acquired as part of the Ryan McDonagh and J.T. Miller trade, makes things happen. With a goal and a primary assist on Chris Kreider’s first goal of the season the other day, he has been moved up to the third line in practice. It looks like he’ll center Kreider and Mats Zuccarello in the team’s fourth game. They’re still searching for their first win.
Rookie Filip Chytil has been dropped down to center a fourth line with Vladislav Namestnikov and Vinni Lettieri. It isn’t a punishment for the 19-year old Chytil, who’s recorded two assists thus far. It’s more of a reward for the active Howden. Maybe Chytil’s skill can aid the fourth line.
Nothing is etched in stone. For those upset over the KZB line of Kreider, Mika Zibanejad and Buchnevich being broken up, it’s due to the trio not producing at five on five. Zibanejad remains without a goal while being shaky in coverage on goals against. Buchnevich has tallied twice with both goals coming a man up. One with the goalie pulled in the Rangers home opener on a redirect of a Zibanejad shot. The other on a rebound from Zuccarello and Tony DeAngelo for the team’s first power play goal on Sunday. So, Buchnevich and Zibanejad will work with Jesper Fast, who already has a goal and two assists. He’s been their best skater followed by Jimmy Vesey, who remains on a line with Hayes and Ryan Spooner.
DeAngelo made his first appearance of the season in the club’s third game. Used as a seventh defenseman initially, his play impressed Quinn enough to merit taking a regular shift over the benched Shattenkirk, who struggled with a minus-two rating. DeAngelo rewarded the coach with a strong game recording two assists in 17:34. That included a nice read on a Hayes pass at the point to move to the middle and get off a tricky shot that allowed Buchnevich to score on the power play.
Satisfied with DeAngelo, Quinn will keep him in the lineup for Thursday’s match. He’ll pair with Staal while getting Shattenkirk’s extra minutes on the power play. For the hometown kid who signed a nice deal in the summer of 2017, it’s an early wake up call with a coach he’s familiar with. To his credit, he’s handled it well.
It can’t be easy for Shattenkirk to be faced with sitting out so early. However, the proud 29-year old from New Rochelle knows he must be better when he returns. No points and a minus-four isn’t how he envisioned putting last year’s nightmarish first season on Broadway behind him. It’s worth noting he only played in two preseason games at the end due to off-season knee surgery. It could take some time.
One thing is abundantly clear. It doesn’t matter who you are. Quinn isn’t screwing around. There are other candidates (Staal, Zibanejad, Zuccarello) who could find themselves where Shattenkirk is. It may only be three games in, but this is a results oriented business. The days of getting off the hook are gone.