The New York Rangers and new head coach David Quinn sent an early message to forward Vladislav Namestnikov Saturday when the team benched him in favor of veteran Cody McLeod for today’s game against Buffalo. While Quinn said the move was meant more to reward the play of McLeod, it’s obvious the team’s new coach is sending a message to Namestnikov, according to New York Post’s Larry Brooks.
The scribe believes this is Quinn’s message to the team to play physical “in your face” hockey and not doing that, is unacceptable. Namestnikov didn’t make that adjustment in his game against Nashville on Thursday and hasn’t played physically all preseason. Enter McLeod, the 34-year-old veteran.
“Cody had a good camp, he played well, and I think he will bring a little more pace and energy to the group,” Quinn said before the optional morning skate. “This will give him a chance to continue to build off his camp. Vladdy and I had a good conversation. He’s still fighting his way through it.”
- The Athletic’s Chris Kuk, in a mailbag piece (subscription required) writes that while the Washington Capitals could have considered going after a backup goaltender in the waiver wire last week, the team’s No. 1 priority was going after a forward to replace the loss of Tom Wilson, who was suspended for 20 games. They did that when they claimed Dmitrij Jaskins. However, Kuk doesn’t believe the team would have gone after a goaltender anyway as they feel that starter Braden Holtby can take a bigger load early in the season as the team monitors the play of Pheonix Copley. If they feel at the trade deadline that Copley isn’t the answer, they can trade for one then.
- While the Philadelphia Flyers have little to worry about when it comes to offense when it has two players capable of putting up 30 goals in James van Riemsdyk and Wayne Simmonds, the team does have to worry about its defense. Even with two of the top young defenders on their roster in Shayne Gostisbehere and Ivan Provorov, the team really needs to develop second year players Robert Hagg and Travis Sanheim, according to Philly.com’s Sam Carchidi. Both players had their ups and downs last year. The physical Hagg started the season strong, but struggled as the season wore on, while Sanheim was sent to the AHL early on in the season last year and came back much improved. If the two can show some consistency this year, the Flyers chances of a playoff run could be much improved.