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Postgame Roundup: Smith on Debut, AV on Buchnevich

Plus Skjei Joins Leetch; Rangers Sweep B's

by Matt Calamia @MattCalamia /

Defenseman Brendan Smith said he was pleased with his performance in his Rangers debut Thursday night in a 2-1 victory over the Boston Bruins.

The 28-year-old blueliner who was acquired Tuesday from Detroit for two draft picks, said while it's a difficult task to step into a new lineup after just one practice, he was helped by his defensive partner throughout the night.

"It is kind of tough to learn a system in a couple days," Smith said after Thursday's match in which he had two blocked shots and one hit in 20:51 of ice time. "I think the big reason was [Ryan McDonagh] helped out so much. He's a fantastic player. He was talking to me the whole time. 

"There's a couple bugaboos I want to get out of my game," Smith added, "but I'm happy with how I did and I just have to build on it and keep getting better."

Video: Brendan Smith on making his Rangers debut

Head coach Alain Vigneault said he too was pleased with the effort put forth by Smith against Boston's top players.

"He played a good game." Vigneault said. "Coming in and playing against their top line, I thought he did a good job. The more he gets used to his new teammates, I'm sure the better he's going to be."

What was Smith's assessment of his new team through one game? They sure are fast.

"I love the speed," Smith said. "You've got guys - and we're even missing [Michael] Grabner who's got lots of speed. We can turn it on like that and I think our start wasn't our best but we built from it and we got better. We found a way to get two points on the road. Sometimes it's hard. That's a good team but we found a way."

Video: NYR@BOS: Buchnevich unloads rocket slapper into twine

Pavel Buchnevich got the Rangers going with his seventh goal of the season after being recalled from Hartford (AHL) earlier in the day. Vigneault said his strong play with the Wolf Pack Wednesday in which he scored two goals and added an assist played a role in him being the one to replace Grabner, who missed the game with a hip injury.

"We were told he was Hartford's best player [Wednesday night]," Vigneault said. "He came in tonight and I thought he played a strong game. That was a great shot on the gave. It gave us the 1-0 lead. I had him out towards the end and he made a few board plays, so I'm happy with how he bounced back."

The goal gave Buchnevich 16 points this season, joining Jimmy Vesey and Brady Skjei as the team's rookies with at least 16 points in one season. The last time three first-year Rangers had that many points was 2005-06, when Petr Prucha, Fedor Tyutin and Dominic Moore reached that plateau.

Speaking of Skjei, the 22-year-old recorded an assist was the 28th helper of his season, which are tied with the most a Rangers rookie defenseman has had since Brian Leetch posted 48 as a rookie in 1988-89. Michael Del Zotto also had 28 in 2009-10.

Thursday's win was the Rangers' 22nd road victory of the season, which is the most in the NHL. New York has the most road wins in the NHL since the start of the 2013-14 campaign with 94. 

The win was also the first time 2006-07 the Rangers swept their season series with the Boston Bruins.

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