Rangers’ young defenseman about to get a lot of playing time

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It seems like that’s it for sitting Neal Pionk.

First-year Rangers coach David Quinn made clear his confidence in the 23-year-old defenseman after he had scratched Pionk for the second straight game during the team’s 2-1 loss to the Oilers in a Saturday matinee at the Garden.

“Pionk is going to play a lot of hockey for us,” Quinn said. “He and I have talked. I don’t want to reveal our lineup for our next game, but he’s a guy I like an awful lot, and he’s going to play a lot for us.”

The next game is Tuesday night at the Garden against the Avalanche, the first of a back-to-back that concludes Wednesday night in Washington against the defending Stanley Cup champion Capitals.

Pionk had seemed solidified in the top four after another good training camp following his 28-game rookie season with the Rangers, but Quinn scratched him for Thursday’s 3-2 overtime win against the Sharks, lauding the team’s depth on the blue line.

“I liked the way some of the guys were playing,” Quinn said in explanation.


Veteran defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk returned to the lineup after his one-game absence as a healthy scratch. The 29-year-old was paired with Fredrik Claesson and got 17:42 of total ice time, including 1:57 as the quarterback of the first power-play unit.

“I thought he played pretty well,” Quinn said of Shattenkirk, who had surgery on Jan. 18 to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee and struggled in his first three games this season. “I thought it was a nice bounce-back effort by him. I thought he defended well, he skated more. It was definitely a step in the right direction.”


Former Rangers backup goalie Cam Talbot got his first win against old team, this being his fifth time playing against the Blueshirts following his trade to Edmonton in the summer of 2015.

“I haven’t gotten the best of them yet until today,” said Talbot, who helped his Oilers notch their first win of the season by making 23 saves. “These two games are always circled on the calendar for me. Now I’ve got this one out of the way, so it can go back to just being another game.”


Quinn kept 19-year-old center Filip Chytil on what was ostensibly the fourth line, with Vladislav Namestnikov and Vinni Lettieri. When Chytil’s name came up in the postgame press conference, the first thing Quinn thought of was the meager 10:19 of total ice time he gave Chytil.

“I’ve got to get him more ice time,” Quinn said. “He’s got to play more. That’s something that I’m going to be conscious of anyway. He’s going to play more.”

Quinn added that there is a chance he moves Chytil to the wing to get him more ice time.


Defenseman Tony DeAngelo was a healthy scratch for the third time in the first five games, and forward Cody McLeod remained out for the fourth time.

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