In their final tuneup before the season, the Rangers concluded the preseason with a 3-2 win on home ice over the Bruins. The goalscorers were Viktor Stalberg, J.T. Miller and Rick Nash (PPG). Ryan McDonagh had two assists and Oscar Lindberg had one.
After allowing a goal to Brett Connolly in the first minute, Henrik Lundqvist at one point stopped 36 in a row. Ironically, Connolly scored the other Boston goal when his baseball bat swing connected for a nice rebound tally from Zach Trotman and Ryan Spooner. His second came with the goalie pulled for an extra attacker at 18:03. But Lundqvist (39 saves) shut the door.
The experimental 3-on-3 overtime resulted in no score. Derick Brassard drew a 4-on-3 power play but the Blueshirts were unable to capitalize despite some looks.
Vet defenseman Raphael Diaz again saw time on the man-advantage. Offensively, he’s looked fine. But the question remains as to whether or not he’ll make the roster over Dylan McIlrath. With the former 2010 first round pick having another strong showing which included a scrap with Tyler Randell after he bumped Lundqvist, the 23-year old McIlrath finally seems ready. It’s time to find out.
With Alain Vigneault indicating he’ll only keep seven defensemen at season’s start, there’s no reason for McIlrath not to be here. He’s earned it. He can’t go down to Hartford without clearing waivers. If he needs playing time, the Rangers can designate him for a conditioning stint. Diaz will probably clear if he’s sent back.
As far as the forwards, Vigneault is going with 13 which could spell the end for Tanner Glass. His $1.45 million cap hit over the next two seasons makes it a certainty he’ll clear. At this point, Lindberg’s earned a starting spot.
Emerson Etem will also make it even though he didn’t distinguish himself. The Rangers aren’t about to admit they made a mistake with Etem getting him from Anaheim for Carl Hagelin. Besides, Hagelin couldn’t be re-signed and they took a chance on Etem’s potential. We’ll see if he gets it.
The only question is will Etem sit at the start? Does Jarret Stoll need to play every game? He and Stalberg both fit in so far. I’m sure Vigneault will give Etem chances. He’ll have to make the most of them.
Here’s what the final 22-man roster should be:
FORWARDS (13): Brassard, Etem, Fast, Hayes, Kreider, Lindberg, Miller, Moore, Nash, Stalberg, Stepan, Stoll, Zuccarello
DEFENSEMEN (7): Boyle, Girardi, Klein, McDonagh, McIlrath, Staal, Yandle
GOALIES (2): Lundqvist, Raanta