The New York Rangers are off to a strong 10 – 4 – 0 start and lead the NHL in scoring, averaging 4.14 goals per contest. Their +24 goal differential is also tops in the league. They recently had a five-game winning streak snapped by Vancouver and during that stretch the team tallied five or more goals in each contest. While the Rangers are getting strong performances throughout their lineup, the contributions they are receiving from several rookies and first-year Blueshirts is a primary reason for their early-season success.
One of those rookies, Jimmy Vesey, has been everything the Rangers could have hoped for, with six goals and 10 points through 14 games. But as Brett Cyrgalis of the New York Post writes, it appears as if the talented winger is beginning to experience the type of ups-and-downs most first-year pros go through.
For the second time in a week, Vesey found himself benched for an extended period of a game when Rangers bench boss Alain Vigneault sat Vesey for much of the third period in Tuesday’s 5 – 3 loss to the Canucks. Vigneault didn’t single out Vesey, or any other Ranger for that matter, but it was clear he was unhappy with the team’s play Tuesday. The benching of the 23-year-old left wing – along with veteran forward Chris Kreider – clearly suggested the coach found something lacking in the performance of Vesey.
Of course, as Cyrgalis points out, Vesey has never had to navigate through a schedule as condensed as this year’s and it’s only natural for an inexperienced player to see his game tail off at times as they learn to adapt to the rigors of the long NHL season. While at Harvard, Vesey never appeared in more than 37 games in a single session and generally, most games were played on the weekends. He’s no stranger to playing back-to-back games but three contests in four is new for the rookie. Despite his occasional struggles, the Blueshirts will still be more than happy if Vesey can maintain his scoring pace through the season.
Elsewhere in the Metro:
- It was hoped Devante Smith-Pelly would be able to supply some secondary scoring to the Devils lineup this season but instead the 24-year-old winger has been a healthy scratch for each of the last two games and according to Chris Ryan of NJ.com, it’s beginning to get frustrating for Smith-Pelly. The former second round draft pick of the Anaheim Ducks has just one goal and three points on the season. Even worse, Smith-Pelly has been a liability at even strength with a Corsi For % of just 41.6%. He felt he was beginning to get on track following a three-game points streak but after New Jersey dropped their next two in Florida, the team decided to sit Smith-Pelly in back-to-back wins over Carolina. For his part, Smith-Pelly is trying to stay positive: “Not sure I agree with it, but like I said, it’s a coach’s decision, and I’m not going to cause any trouble or anything like that. I’m going to keep working hard and wait for my chance.” According to Andrew Gross of NorthJersey.com, Smith-Pelly is likely to again be a healthy scratch tonight as the team held only an informal skate this morning and based off the lines from yesterday’s full practice he was skating as an extra forward.
- Nine-year NHL veteran Tyler Kennedy, who spent six seasons in Pittsburgh, has resigned himself to the likelihood of retirement, telling Adam Bittner of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “you always as a hockey player want to keep playing as far as you can, but it feels like I’m going to retire, and that’s the thing that’s going to happen, I’m pretty sure. You never know, but I’m almost positive last year was my last year, so I’m kind of settling in. It’s a tough transition to do one thing your whole life and then have to change it. But it’s a good transition and we’ll see what happens.” Kennedy, who also has suited up for San Jose, New Jersey and the Islanders during his career, would finish up his career with 89 goals and 215 points in 527 contests should he decide to call it quits. He appeared in 50 games last season with the Devils but has so far been unable to latch onto an NHL team this season.