Key young Blueshirts on bubble in tonight’s preseason finale in Bridgeport

It all comes down to this. For young forwards Filip Chytil, Brett Howden and Vitali Kravtsov, they’re on the bubble to make the Rangers 23-man roster as camp breaks. So much so that both 19-year old Kravtsov and 20-year old Chytil are slated to play with Howden on the first line in the final tuneup against the Islanders at Bridgeport.

The game is an hour away. With coach David Quinn pretty much set on his top six, top four D and of course Henrik Lundqvist, who’ll start Opening Night versus Winnipeg next week, he’s tinkered with the lines. Hence the following lineup for the sixth and final exhibition game tonight.

More excellent reporting from Vince Mercogliano, who’s quickly becoming the go to guy for Rangers news. He’s on The Athletic, but his tweets are top notch due to the information they contain. He’s also easy to discuss the team with. A big time plus.

While the trio of Chytil, Howden and Kravtsov will work together in a last attempt to catch the team’s attention, Quinn has Lias Andersson between Vladislav Namestnikov and Jesper Fast. That very well could be a checking line we see during the season. Although I like the chemistry between Andersson and pest Brendan Lemieux. I have to believe they’ll be together with either Fast or Namestnikov.

Another player who is looking to make one final impression is Boo Nieves. A little older than the kids due to playing four years at Michigan and a couple in Hartford, he is a solid fit for the fourth line due to his checking and penalty killing. However, it all depends on if DQ decides to go with both Andersson and Howden as his third and fourth centers. Nieves is also effective on draws. He also wouldn’t be a bad guy to carry as an extra forward.

Boo gets a look with Lemieux and soon to be ticketed for Hartford in Vinni Lettieri. With that a interesting third line even if it doesn’t blow away optimistic fans of the youth movement, Quinn has also decided to take a look at secret weapon Brendan Smith on the wing with former Hurricane Greg McKegg and Michael Haley. Of the trio, McKegg has been impressive throughout camp and should make the final cut. What they decide to do with Smith is anyone’s guess. He hasn’t hurt himself.

Libor Hajek gets a look with Tony DeAngelo as a top pair. A pairing we could see depending on Adam Fox, who is in the lineup with the forgotten 21-year old Ryan Lindgren. The steady defensive D, who finishes every check and blocks shots. The question is is Lindgren better off in Hartford instead of being an early healthy scratch? Probably.

Former Winnipeg Jet Joe Morrow gets one more shot on his PTO to try to earn a spot as an extra D. He’s paired with Tarmo Reunanen.

Alexandar Georgiev is expected to go all the way to get more action. Igor Shesterkin backs up. As impressive as he’s been, he’ll start with the Wolf Pack. The right move for the KHL import.

If there is one disappointing aspect, it’s that they never got to see what Yegor Rykov could do. An injury prevented him from even getting into a game. So, he’s headed to Hartford. Keep an eye on the former St. Petersburg SKA and Sochi HC defenseman, who was included in the Michael Grabner trade with the Devils. He’s still only 22.

That’s all for now. After the game, I’ll have a brief recap and go on Periscope live to give some final observations about who’ll make the roster.

Cya later.

About Derek Felix

Derek Felix is sports blogger whose previous experience included separate stints at ESPN as a stat researcher for NHL and WNBA telecasts. The Staten Island native also interned for or hockey historian Stan Fischler and worked behind the scenes for MSG as a production assistant on New Jersey Devil telecasts. An avid New York sports fan who enjoys covering events, writing, concerts, movies and the outdoors, Derek has covered consecutive Staten Island Yankees NY Penn League championships in '05 and '06. He also scored Berkeley Carroll high school basketball games from '06-14 and provided an outlet for the Park Slope school's student athletes. Hitting Back gives them the publicity they deserve. In his free time, he also attends Ranger games and is a loyal St. John's alum with a sports management degree. The Battle Of Hudson administrator and chief editor can be followed below on Twitter and Facebook.
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