Tough Decisions for Vigneault

Decisions, decisions.

And tonight’s game didn’t make coach Alain Vigneault’s job easier.

Instead, maybe a little harder.

With three spots still up in the air – assuming J.T. Miller is a lock to make the team – the Rangers will have some tough choices in the final week before the season opens up.

And Ryan Malone just made it tougher.

The former Penguin had a goal in the final minutes to tie the game and the game winner in the shootout in the Rangers 3-2 win over the Blackhawks.

After missing the last game at the Garden, the Ranger hopeful needed a good showing tonight in order to keep himself in the running especially with youngsters like Anthony Duclair getting serious consideration.

“You obviously want to be noticed in a positive way, so you want to make sure you’re doing stuff even in practice, doing the little things that have the eyes on you as much as you can,” Malone said. “There’s still another game tomorrow, so you have to keep going and take it one day at a time.”

Ok, with the problems Malone has suffered through, such as injuries and the legal problems, behind him and his in front of the net presence, he has probably moved to lock from question mark.

More importantly, the Rangers also have other decisions to make with the young kids, which is why Vigneault was watching from the Garden Eyebrow with general manager Glen Sather.

“There’s a couple of areas that there’s not much separation,” Vigneault said. “There are a lot of things that need to be considered, the cap, the health, what we are going to do with (Derek Stepan) as far as long term or not long term. There are a lot of things that are coming into the mix. Still not quite sure, after sitting through the game with Glen, exactly where we are with the pieces.”

Well, our best guess over here has the Rangers taking Duclair for the first nine games and then giving Jesper Fast a shot as the last forward. That will also leave the Rangers a true natural center short, but Martin St. Louis played there tonight and may continue for the first month of the season.

The biggest difference, for Ol’ No. 26, will be the faceoffs.

“I didn’t feel I lost many of them clean,” he said. “I lost one clean but I felt I left a lot of pucks laying there. I felt like I got better as the game went one.”

And they need St. Louis because Kevin Hayes, who was expected to make the team, may be the odd man out when the Rangers open up next week.

The much ballyhooed former first round pick of the Blackhawks signed with the Rangers because they needed someone at center and has a relationship with Chris Kreider. But now looks to be Hartford bound for at least the first few games on the year.

Of course, we still have tomorrow’s game in New Jersey and anything can change over the next week, but as of right now, they still have some tough decisions to make.

About the Author

Joe McDonald

Joe McDonald is the founder and former publisher of NY Sports Day. After selling to i15Media in 2020, he serves as the Editor-in-Chief and responsible for the editorial side of the publication. In the past, Joe was the managing editor of NY Sportscene magazine and assistant editor of Mets Inside Pitch. He has covered the Mets since 2004.

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