NY Rangers takeaways: New lines show flashes, but not enough to overcome Capitals
WASHINGTON, D.C. - For the fourth time in five games, the New York Rangers tweaked their lines as they continue to search for the right combinations.
Friday's contest against the Washington Capitals featured the biggest changes yet.
It's still far from perfect - as evidenced by the 5-2 loss, the Rangers third defeat in a row.
The key players on the move did show a few encouraging signs. Chris Kreider, who moved to the right wing on the top line, had the primary assist on a pretty give-and-go goal with Artemi Panarin in the second period. And Pavel Buchnevich - who began the season on the top line but was dropped down to the second Friday - netted his first goal of the season. (Although, to be fair, Buchnevich's goal came on a power play.)LINEUP CHANGES: Chris Kreider moves to top line, Pavel Buchnevich bumps down PREVIOUS GAME: NJ Devils take advantage of mistakes to claim first win against NYR
Prior to the game, coach David Quinn offered his thought process for the changes.
"We've been thinking about making some of these moves, not for any other reason than we've got a lot of new faces and you're trying to find chemistry," he said. "It's not like we've got 12 forwards that have been here for three or four years. It's just hunches and wanting to see how things play out."
Oct 18, 2019; Washington, DC, USA; New York Rangers left wing Pavel Buchnevich (89) scores a goal on Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby (70) in the first period at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports (Photo: Geoff Burke, Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)
Henrik Lundqvist didn't get much help all night, and it was optimized in the opening minutes.
Panarin took a penalty for slashing and the Capitals took advantage. T.J. Oshie was was left alone on the edge of the crease, right in front of Lundqvist, and was able to get off three shots in a row before Jacob Trouba finally got there to lay the hit.
It was too late, as the third shot - more of a swing at Lundqvist's pads - knocked the puck in to give Washington a 1-0 lead.
Oshie added a second power-play goal in the third period, with Michal Kempny and Nic Dowd also scoring for the Caps.
Lundqvist faced a barrage of breakaways and tough situations, but kept the Rangers in the game by finishing with 30 saves, including 15 in the second period.
Caught my eye
Once again, the Rangers were sloppy in a lot of areas - including more bad turnovers and defensive lapses that led to easy opportunities for Washington. It's not exactly breaking news that the Capitals are a much better team at this point.
But on a night when Buchnevich's confidence could have been rattled by his demotion to the second line, he seemed to up his game. His power-play goal in the first period came on a tough angle and showed a willingness to shoot that he's lacked in prior games.
And while the first line is still a work in progress, the one goal they did score was an awesome display of passing.
Many more takeways to come after the postgame interviews...Follow our Rangers coverage at lohud.com/sports/rangers! Twitter: @vzmercogliano
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