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Vesey, 'Kid Line' Earn Praise from Vigneault

by Matt Calamia @MattCalamia /

Despite the puck not finding the back of the net, Rangers forward Jimmy Vesey said he was pleased with the way he has been performing over the last several weeks.

The 23-year-old has appeared in 71 of the Rangers' first 72 games during his rookie campaign, and said there was relief when he capitalized on a rebound opportunity in the second period Saturday in Minnesota, which was his first goal in 15 games.

"I feel really good, actually," Vesey told after Monday's practice. "My body has held up well the whole season. Definitely had some off nights and it's an adjustment with the schedule and getting up for sometimes four games a week, but I've liked the way I played probably the last three weeks. 

"I think I'm skating really well and I have my speed back and I've been trying to play simple and play the right way," Vesey added, "and I got rewarded last game with a goal."

Video: NYR@MIN: Vesey uses crafty move to bury rebound

The prized free agent signing out of Harvard University last summer, Vesey is having a successful first year in the NHL with 15 goals and 25 points through 71 games this season.

The winger has been used throughout the lineup this season by coach Alain Vigneault, whether it be in a top-six role skating opposite of Rick Nash, or in a fourth line capacity as he was Saturday night in Minnesota alongside Oscar Lindberg and Pavel Buchnevich on what Vigneault dubbed the 'Kid Line.' 

"I've been bounced around the lineup this year," Vesey said. "When you're on the fourth line, you're trying to create energy and play good defense. I've been looking to chip in when I can and play whatever role the coaches want me to."

Vigneault praised the trio - whose eldest member is Lindberg, who turned 25 in late October - and said the line played "extremely well" against the Wild over the weekend.

"I liked the energy they brought. I thought they battled extremely well on the ice," Vigneault said Monday. "They got in on the forecheck. Jimmy got in there a couple times that created turnovers that led to offensive time and scoring chances. They came up and they had the winning goal off an initial rush." 

The composition of that fourth line goes against historical norms. While there is physicality and defensive awareness, the Lindberg trio possesses a high level of skill, which was shown throughout Saturday's performance.

"I think it was really good that we found chemistry right away in that game," Vesey said of his line's performance. "Those guys are two guys that are skilled and can make plays. We want to focus on being a good fourth line and bringing energy to the team, but our skill levels translated into some goals. They're both highly skilled and open up the ice. We were a good line so hopefully it continues."

With just 10 games remaining on the schedule, Vesey said he's has noticed a drastic difference in the battle level of games, especially when the Rangers are facing a team battling for their playoff lives.

"It's definitely getting more intense as we go down the stretch," Vesey said. "Sometimes playing teams like Florida that are fighting for their season, it is a little different than in the beginning of the year when it's more feeling out. Teams are trying to find themselves. Now, it's definitely been more intense."

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