Youngsters getting taught valuable lesson from Quinn

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The coach who was hired to develop kids didn’t dress either of his two youngest defensemen and benched one of his top-six kids up front for most of the third period of Saturday’s 2-1 defeat to the Oilers at the Garden in which the Rangers played well enough to lose to a bad team.

Guess what? Ten days and five games into the season, David Quinn is allowed. This is not a sprint but rather a marathon. If in the long run it benefits defenseman Neal Pionk to have watched a second consecutive game, so be it. If Tony DeAngelo did not play well enough in Thursday’s victory over San Jose to merit a third straight game, fine.

And if Pavel Buchnevich continued to struggle to have an impact on the outcome, as he has pretty much since the opener five games ago, then a seat on the bench for the final 8:35 (and all but three shifts worth 1:28) of the third, well, then that’s exactly where No. 89 belonged while Vladislav Namestnikov and Filip Chytil took his place.

Development means more than just throwing players onto the ice.

Quinn said the decision to sit Pionk was more predicated on liking what he saw from Fredrik Claesson on Thursday than believing that No. 44 needed another day in street clothes. As Kevin Shattenkirk returned to the lineup after his one-game blow, the coach also needed to remove a righty from the back end. That was DeAngelo.

“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 coach is walking a tightrope here between teaching, cajoling, developing and putting the lineup on the ice he thinks his best equipped to compete. The 1-4 Rangers just are not imposing enough in any area (other than in nets, where Henrik Lundqvist had another fine game) to be considered serious contenders for a playoff spot, but their coach is not going to give games away.

In this one, Quinn was tasked with finding matchup pairs against the resplendent Connor McDavid. He chose to split the assignment between the Brady Skjei-Adam McQuaid pair and the Marc Staal-Brendan Smith tandem. The Rangers were pretty much in control against No. 97’s unit, dominating in down-low possession behind strong work from the Chris Kreider-Mika Zibanejad-Jesper Fast trio, even if McDavid did set up Ryan Nugent-Hopkins off a rush for the Oilers’ first goal.

On Thursday, Quinn had the left-handed Buchnevich on the left side for the first time in his career. The coach thought moving No. 89 off his backhand side would open new horizons for him. But the winger either forgot where he was supposed to be or he does not know right from left, for he was forever wandering and bumping into right winger Fast. Friday, Buchnevich pronounced the experiment over.

Saturday, on the right with Brett Howden in the middle and Mats Zuccarello on the left, Buchnevich was no factor either at even-strength or on a weak power play that went 0-for-2 against the Oilers and is 1-for-12 overall. Buchnevich did not have so much as a shot attempt throughout his 11:22. No one even has former coach Alain Vigneault to kick around anymore.

Rest assured, Quinn is aware of his ice-time allotment. The Rangers have no interest in allowing their kids to wither on the vine. Unsolicited, he proclaimed the need to get Filip Chytil more of it.

“I’m conscious of it,” the coach said. “He’s got to play more.”

Chytil played 10:19 after getting 11:06 and 10:03 in his previous two matches after being usurped on the depth chart by Brett Howden. The most logical way for Chytil to get additional time is by shifting to the wing. That in fact is his likely destination for the Avalanche game on Tuesday.

Ryan Spooner, who must have been on the perimeter because he sure didn’t show up too often in the picture, played just one third-period shift. Chytil could displace him in the top nine.

Namestnikov, who was assertive in earning 6:06 in the third, could move up the depth chart as well, perhaps displacing Jimmy Vesey. The Rangers will likely have a different look for that one.

In the meantime, Quinn will continue to deliver messages, the latest being that being young does not entitle anyone to ice time.

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