Many times during a playoff run, one player who may be overlooked by an opponent. In the New York Rangers case, it would be wise if the Carolina Hurricanes did not overlook Pavel Buchnevich. Of course, the Hurricanes must focus on Artemi Panarin, Mika Zibanejad, and Chris Kreider. However, if they ignore Buchnevich they will pay the price.
One of the biggest criticisms of Buchnevich has been his lack of consistency. However, before the pause, Buchnevich finished strong, netting nine goals and 21 points over the New York Rangers’ final 21 regular-season games. While Buchnevich does benefit from usually being on the same line as Zibanejad, he actually played better without his stellar linemate, posting a superior expected goal rate away from his regular linemate.
This was evidenced back in February when head coach David Quinn demoted Buchnevich to the fourth line mid-game. But Buchnevich’s ability to bounce back quickly and make a positive impact became very apparent as in the next game against the Maple Leafs, he posted a goal and two assists.
Quinn likened Buchnevich’s game to being on a roller coaster at an amusement park. “Sometimes you get the high rides, and you’re having a hell of a time, and then you’re waiting in line and waiting to get on the ride, and you’re getting frustrated and aggravated,” Quinn said. “He’s a good player. He’s a real good player, and he’s had a good year for us. And sometimes guys just need a little jolt.” The Hurricanes should be concerned that his jolt is the fact the Rangers are in the playoffs against them.
Such is the case for Buchnevich. Much of his inconsistencies could be due to the fact that he has come from a different style of play. The native of Russia learned the European, possession-based style of play. Even after four years in the league, Buchnevich is still learning the intricacies that separate the European and North American styles.
Also, Buchnevich is also a guy who has his teammates back.
Brad Marchand doesn’t like to see anyone touch Patrice Bergeron and then Pavel Buchnevich cross checks his helmet off.
Somehow Marchand’s the only one in the box. pic.twitter.com/tPNAXpQBxm
— Evan Marinofsky (@emarinofsky) February 16, 2020
February was also an interesting month for Buchnevich. For example, he was involved in a car accident with teammate Igor Shesterkin. Buchnevich remained relatively unhurt during the accident, his teammate suffered a broken rib. In addition, during the trade deadline, there were many who suggested that Buchnevich should be traded to save cap space instead of teammate Chris Kreider.
One of the vocal opponents of trading him away was Sean Harnett of WFAN who said: “A future of 70-point seasons should be within his reach. The Rangers just need to keep the faith and not overreact when the ugly side of his game shows up.”
That future could start showing up during the Stanley Cup playoffs as the Hurricanes will be tasked with defending Zibanejad, Kreider, and Panarin, which could allow Buchnevich to have an impact in a supporting role.