Neal Pionk had three assists in Wednesday's win over Pittsburgh and led all skaters with 26:03 in the game.
Pionk, 22, has five assists in the past three games and eight points in the last eight games.
Since Pionk was called up, Alain Vigneault has said:
- 2/14: He's a good skating defenseman, is willing to take a hit to make a play, has good poise with the puck, improved skating since training camp and a "smart young man" with a good understanding of the game.
- 2/15: He can skate his way out of trouble, makes easy outlet passes and was got more ice time due to the injury to Steve Kampfer.
- 2/16: Pionk, and John Gilmour, have made contributions in a "very positive way" and that the challenge for them will be being able to sustain and maintain their level of play on a consistent basis.
- 3/12: "I've really liked his game, both with the puck and without it." Pionk is a "smart player, has a good "gap and "competes."
- 3/14: Marc Staal was asked by Pierre McGuire about Pionk and said,"he was unbelievable tonight, I thought he played outstanding. He's been solid and getting better and better." (NBCSN)
- 3/16/18 | Vigneault said on Friday, "I think that with Neal, he is a bright young man. He understands the game and I think he understands the percentages in the game. He is putting himself in a good spot, I really like his compete level, he competes hard. He has a good skill set and he can make that pass and there is no doubt that in college and prior to that he was considered an offensive defenseman and good on the rush, good on the PP. There is some upside there with him. We need to continue to work at his game and improve it."
Pionk said that he gains confidence each time he has the puck and that he has an ability to "break pucks out fast, which leads to offense." (Newsday)
In training camp, Vigneault said that Pionk is a player that the Rangers scouts "loved" and noted that Pionk spent the summer in the NY area working with Ben Prentiss.
He said that Pionk is a skilled, right shot defenseman who can move the puck and play on the PP.
In 17 games this season, Pionk is averaging 21:52 per game, has 25 hits, 29 blocked shots, 6 takeaways and 17 giveaways.
From the Rangers Game Notes, "Since the NHL began to track ice time in 1997-98, Pionk is one of four Rangers rookies who have logged at least 25:00 of ice time in at least two different games (Fedor Tyutin, Michael Del Zotto, Michael Sauer)."