Pavel Buchnevich tells Igor Shesterkin to expect jokes if he scores as Blues face Rangers

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Pavel Buchnevich makes his return to New York with the St. Louis Blues to face his old team the New York Rangers on Wednesday night.

The Rangers traded Buchnevich last July to save some salary cap space before he became a restricted free agent. In return, they got cost-controlled Sammy Blais and a second-round draft pick in a trade wildly unpopular with Rangers fans. Buchnevich was dealt after playing for five seasons in New York and last season scoring a career-best 48 points.

Buchnevich immediately signed a four-year contract with the Blues and has 46 points in his 46 games with St. Louis. He is on of their top players, while the Rangers are still trying to replace him.

Pavel Buchnevich looking to score on Igor Shesterkin

Pavel Buchnevich and Igor Shesterkin
Pavel Buchnevich and Igor Shesterkin (via Artemi Panarin IG)

Buchnevich, who was also dubbed ‘Captain Happy’ by his teammates, became very close to fellow Russian Igor Shesterkin. The two were basically inseparable and spent plenty of time playing FIFA on Playstation together (as evidenced by Artemi Panarin’s IG account). So now that Buchnevich is coming into town he has his a message for his good friend.

“Everybody wants to score against their old team, especially I have a good buddy in net, so if I score, he’s going to hear some jokes all day long,” Buchnevich said with a laugh.

Rangers looking forward to seeing Buchnevich

“Playing with him was a lot of fun,” Rangers veteran Mika Zibanejad told reporters at practice Tuesday. “A lot of good memories, a lot of laughs. It’s going to be good to see him.”

The feeling is mutual for Buchnevich, who spent five years with the Blueshirts and has many friends here.

“I’m just happy to come back,” Buchnevich said. “Excited for the game. Big game. Bunch of friends. Excited to play again in MSG. Hopefully we’ll have a great game from both sides — two good teams — and have a fun game.”

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Rangers looking to stop losing streak

pavel buchnevich
Sep 27, 2021; St. Louis, Missouri, USA; St. Louis Blues right wing Pavel Buchnevich (89) handles the puck during the third period against the Dallas Stars at Enterprise Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

What has not been good for the Rangers is a lack of offense of late. Ryan Strome and Alexis Lafreniere scored third-period goals in Sunday’s 5-2 loss to the Vancouver Canucks.

Since returning from a two-week break, the Rangers are 3-2-1 in six games and have scored two or fewer goals in five of those games. Chris Kreider took eight shots on goal Sunday and has scored once since the break while Artemi Panarin has scored once since the break.

“We’ve got to try to produce more,” Strome said. “I think there’s a bunch of guys that are maybe gripping the stick a bit tight. We’re still in a lot of hockey games and we’re playing good hockey as a team, I think. But obviously to score goals is what we’ve got to do.”

While Blais is out for the season with a torn ACL sustained back in November, Buchnevich is having a career season. His 46 points are tied for second on the team with Vladimir Tarasenko and three behind Jordan Kyrou, who scored during a 4-0 win over the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Blues started their four-game trip by extending their winning streak to four games, one behind their season-high five-game run to start the season. St. Louis has scored 19 times during the streak, with Buchnevich tallying three of those goals. He scored the second goal in a three-goal second period Sunday to earn him the team’s postgame “hard hat” from Brayden Schenn, who also dubbed Buchnevich “The Mayor of New York.”

Sunday’s win also gave St. Louis a point in seven straight games (6-0-1) since a 7-4 loss to the New Jersey Devils on Feb. 10. The Blues have scored 31 times in that span and notched at least three goals in nine of their past 12 contests.

–Field Level Media contributed to this report