Jimmy Vesey

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Jimmy Vesey lost a tooth in his lip

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New York Rangers forward Jimmy Vesey was hit in the mouth by the skate of Edmonton Oilers forward Zach Kassian on Saturday afternoon, leaving his mouth a bloodied mess and knocking out a couple of teeth.

Where did those teeth go you might be wondering?

Somewhere on the ice? Picked up by an ice crew member or swept away by the Zamboni only to be Lost forever?

Nope. They are still attached to his mouth. Sort of. They were lodged in his bottom lip.

Notice the X-ray.

That makes it look like there is only one tooth stuck in his lip but Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said after the game he actually has two in there and that “they are going to find a way to take them out.”

Vesey played 11 minutes in the Rangers’ 4-2 win.

Red-hot Rangers within range of Metro lead after beating Bruins

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As of Oct. 19, the New York Rangers were spinning out of control at 1-5-2. As of tonight, they’re two points behind the Penguins for the Metropolitan Division lead.

Riding a hot first period from youngsters Pavel Buchnevich and Jimmy Vesey, the Rangers maintained a 3-1 lead to an eventual 4-2 win against the Boston Bruins. The B’s made things interesting for some time in the third, but New York won, giving the Rangers an impressive five-game winning streak.

They’ve also won six of eight, moving to 8-7-2 on the season.

The good news is that they’re now in the thick of things in the Metro. The bad news is that, even with this hot streak, they still have a lot of work to do:

Metro standings as of Wednesday night

Penguins: 9-6-2, 20 points, 17 games played
Devils: 9-4-1, 19 pts., 14 GP
Blue Jackets: 9-6-1-, 19 pts., 16 GP
Islanders: 8-5-2, 18 pts., 15 GP
Rangers: 8-7-2, 18 pts., 17 GP
Capitals: 8-7-1, 17 pts., 16 GP
Flyers: 7-6-2, 16 pts., 15 GP
Hurricanes: 5-5-3, 13 pts., 13 GP

So, yes, the Rangers are in the mix, and with some other Metro teams stumbling, things are looking up. At the same time, you can see that things are very tight. One can’t count Carolina out, as while the Canes are five points behind the Rangers, they have played four fewer games.

(The Rangers have also played 12 of 17 games at home so far.)

Regardless, the Rangers end the night in the East’s final wild card spot, which stands as a pretty startling turnaround when you consider how dire things looked mere weeks ago.

Looking at this five-game winning streak, the Rangers have simply found different ways to win. Their power play has been hot some nights, as they’ve scored six times on the man advantage during this run, with three of those PPGs coming against Columbus. This time around, the Rangers didn’t need their power play, going 0-for-1 in that regard.

On other nights, the Rangers needed to grind out overtime wins and rally from a tough deficit against Vegas. In this case, the defense-challenged group showed that they could protect a lead, even one that they built early on.

That has to be a promising sign for Alain Vigneault, Henrik Lundqvist & Co., even if the Bruins are dealing with some serious injury issues. Credit Boston for a strong push late in this game, but this team obviously needs some supplementary scoring beyond Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak, the source of their two goals. (Maybe they need to work the trade market?)

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Video: Buchnevich beats Chara for sick Rangers goal

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Zdeno Chara is no longer at the (arguably) generational level he enjoyed at the peak of his career, but he’s still a bedrock defenseman for the Boston Bruins.

With that in mind, making him look hapless remains quite a feat, and New York Rangers forward Pavel Buchnevich did just that tonight. The youngster put some serious moves on Tuukka Rask as well to score a legitimate highlight reel goal.

The Rangers are shooting for a fifth consecutive win tonight, and their young scorers are leading the way so far. Jimmy Vesey scored two “greasy” goals himself in the opening frame, with Buchnevich collecting an assist on one of those tallies.

Considering Alain Vigneault’s ups and downs with young players, it would be awfully amusing if players like Buchnevich find a way to save his job, wouldn’t it?

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Should Rangers consider a mini-rebuild?

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Last night, Darren Dreger appeared on NBCSN to discuss possible changes for the New York Rangers, from replacing Alain Vigneault to making trades.

The video above is interesting, but it’s clear that the Rangers have more questions than answers. Allow a suggestion, then: the Rangers should make like the 2012-13 Sharks and essentially run a “mini-rebuild.”

As a reminder, the Sharks traded Ryane Clowe to the (gulp) Rangers for a bucket of picks and sent Douglas Murray to the Penguins for two second-rounders. Hot take: San Jose won those trades.

Now, the situations aren’t precisely the same (example: the Rangers employ Glen Sather, so they can’t swindle him), but New York should evoke the spirit of those trades. Rangers GM Jeff Gorton should peel off the Band-Aid for big rewards, much like Sharks GM Doug Wilson. Those decisions were braver then than they appear now.

And that is where the fun starts. Let’s ponder a few questions the Rangers must ask themselves.

Fire AV?

Under certain circumstances, the Alain Vigneault question is more complicated than frustrated Rangers fans might believe.

Still, if you’re undergoing even an abbreviated rebuild, AV might not be the right fit. And, yes, even good coaches sometimes have limited shelf lives before players sour on them.

They already began a pivot, in a way

Also, while the moves were made to afford Kevin Shattenkirk, the Rangers already moved Derek Stepan and Antti Raanta out of town, with futures coming back. They got a boom-or-bust prospect in Anthony DeAngelo and the pick that became Lias Andersson in that trade.

In a way, this could just be a continuation. And, hey, there’s already some talk about the draft lottery.

Easy calls

  • Rick Nash: His mammoth $7.8 million cap hit will expire after this season, making it a challenge to move, unless Gorton gets creative. The Rangers could retain some of his salary, or better yet, take on some cap hits in exchange for assets.
  • Michael Grabner: While Nash is expensive, Grabner’s deal is as thrifty as he is swift. How many contenders wouldn’t want to add a speedy scorer with some gas in the tank (Grabner is 30) when you consider his $1.65M cap hit? The greater cost would come in the picks and/or prospects that would need to go the Rangers’ way.
  • Would anyone want Marc Staal? Have the Rangers called Lightning GM Steve Yzerman, whose blind spot seems to be declining, rugged Rangers?

Tougher considerations

  • Mats Zuccarello: The pint-sized wonder always seems to sneak up on you. Many might assume he’s had a quieter season … yet he has 10 points in 13 games. Sneaky.

Zuccarello has two years left, but at $4.5M, plenty of teams might view that at as plus. Really, it comes down to keeping him if you expect to contend again soon or shopping him if you see this as a “process.”

  • Young forwards who need new deals: J.T. Miller, Jimmy Vesey, and Kevin Hayes are three players in their mid-20s. They might be the sort of guys who are integral to your future, assuming this is a blip rather than a longer rebuild. Maybe you decide to keep two and trade one. Perhaps they’re all players you can sign to team-friendly deals.

Either way, the Rangers need to at least consider the futures of those three, among other young (and young-ish) players.

  • Ryan McDonagh – I wouldn’t do it, but his bargain $4.7M does expire after 2018-19.

Do not move

Let’s just use this as an opportunity to mention that Mika Zibanejad, Chris Kreider, and Brady Skjei shouldn’t be moved unless there’s an offer of just astounding quality. (In other words, unless Peter Chiarelli calls?)

There are also guys you wouldn’t be able to trade: Henrik Lundqvist and probably Shattenkirk. Also, probably Staal, but the Rangers should send a call to Tampa just to make sure.

Long story short, the status quo isn’t tenable for the Rangers. With that in mind, they should take a bold approach, ultimately aiming higher than merely trying to make the playoffs.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Lundqvist sharp, Rangers scrappy against Predators to end slump

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Is it melodramatic to say that the New York Rangers needed this one?

Whatever weight you put on it, the Rangers finally broke a troubling five-game losing streak, managing a 4-2 win against the Nashville Predators at Madison Square Garden on Saturday. The Predators saw a streak end in their own right, as they had been on a 4-0-1 run.

MORE: Rangers are still in for a steep climb in the Metro

As much as this was a confidence-booster, it was sometimes a sleepy afternoon effort by the Rangers. After generating a 2-0 lead in the first period, New York snoozed at times, only firing six shots on goal on Juuse Saros during the final 40 minutes.

Whether it came down to sitting on a lead or the Predators pressing on the gas, Henrik Lundqvist had to be alert at times in stopping 23 of 25 shots. One of his best efforts came in snubbing Colton Sissons in close:

In winning his 407th career regular-season game, Lundqvist tied Glenn Hall for ninth all-time in NHL history.

The Rangers were opportunistic on Saturday, a positive sign for a team that hasn’t always been getting the bounces early in 2017-18.

Kevin Hayes exerted his will at times, assisting on the Rangers’ opening goal and powering past Matt Irwin for what would stand as the game-winner:

Impressive stuff by Hayes, even if it was almost an equally lousy showing by Irwin.

Ryan Ellis is clearly missed by Nashville, but moments like Irwin’s lapse and Alexei Emelin flailing badly on the opening goal make one wonder why, exactly, Samuel Girard isn’t getting more looks after some promising early showings. With Irwin and Yannick Weber logging less than 11 minutes on Saturday, both P.K. Subban (27:55) and Roman Josi (27:31) flirted with 28-minute workloads despite the contest ending in regulation.

The Predators likely cringed a little extra at the empty-net goal since it came via former Preds prospect Jimmy Vesey:

If the Rangers want to get back on track, they’ll need to win in a number of ways, even if they’re not always pretty ones like this one was.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

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