(Neil Miller/Sportsday Wire)
We interrupt this baseball season to bring you some hockey. Sure we know the playoffs are around the corner, but the Rangers are looking for some love too.
With the preseason schedule officially over after the Rangers 3-2 win over Boston, there’s a week until opening night in Chicago, there’s still a few housekeeping details Alain Vigneault needs to attend to before the season starts.
“I’m not going to get into specifics,” said coach Alain Vigneault. “We are going to meet tomorrow as a group. I think we have discussed in length some of the decision we have to make it, so we are going to sleep on it tonight, meet tomorrow and make those decisions after.”
Great, if AV won’t do it, we will.
Let’s start with the easy one. On defense Rafael Diaz versus Dylan McIlrath for the No. 7 defenseman. The clear winner here is McIlrath, who stepped up to the plate this September. Tonight, he was the best defenseman on the ice, something even the Ranger regulars notice and he can fill that enforcer role too. What else do you expect from the Undertaker?
So look for Diaz to get cut and McIlrath to make the team.
Next on forward, the Rangers need to cut one to get the roster down to 23. Oscar Lindberg looks like a lock after he was voted the best rookie in camp, so now the team is focusing on Emerson Etem and Tanner Glass. Both haven’t performed up to snuff this preseason, but Glass is trying, while Etem looks lost out there.
If this was a meritocracy, Glass would get the nod for now – he could always get cut later. However, Etem came to the Rangers in the Carl Hagelin deal, so if the team waives him and he gets claimed, then the Blueshirts will come up with nothing in return for their blonde left winger. And we can’t have that, can we?
Etem will get the nod, but it’s not like he deserves it.
Although, they have until Monday to make the cuts, Vigneault can drop the ax as early as Friday. So just look out for it, kind of like waiting for a check in the mail.
“I can’t tell you exactly,” Vigneault said. “We’ve got until Monday. Before we submit our lineups, so I’m not exactly sure what Jeff (Gorton) is going to do.”
In the meantime, the Rangers need to get ready for the regular season. They are going to go up to West Point over the weekend for team building and then just put their heads down.
“I think we have to practice hard,” said goalie Henrik Lundqvist. “We are going to West Point, so we are going to do some team building. I think it’s going to be a great week for us to work on some details. It’s important to keep up the pace in practice. The first game in Chicago is going to be a pretty good teat for us, so I look forward to that.”