The Rangers defeated a young and mostly second string Boston Bruins last night. Outside of Jesper Fast, Dan Boyle, Keith Yandle and Dominic Moore, New York put their A team on the ice. Dylan McIlrath and Raphael Diaz, who are fighting for jobs on D, and Tanner Glass, Oscar Lindberg, Viktor Stalberg, Jarret Stoll and Emerson Etem, who are looking for forward roster spots, were all on the ice last evening at MSG.
The final score was 3-2, but more importantly, lets talk about who looked good and who did not.
McIlrath was definitely one of the best blueliners on the ice last night. He clearly won the fight he had with Tyler Randell of the Bruins and his use of his stick to break up plays is impressive. He still has lots of learning to do, in my opinion, he is NHL-ready and will have a spot on the blueline next week.
Diaz is more of a question mark. He has a great shot, heavy and on the mark (most of the time), plus he recorded a point in three of the four pre-season games in which he played, but he makes quite a few mistakes in his own zone that make him a liability at times.
If its a choice between McIlrath and Diaz, the powers that be should take Big Mc. If the team could keep both, all the better.
On forward, Etem was clearly the worst of the bubble players on the ice last night. He was totally ineffective. Unfortunately that does not mean that he will be put on waivers and sent to Hartford. He should be, but I really don’t think this is going to happen, because the Rangers would have to admit that they got basically nothing from Anaheim for Carl Hagelin, and I do not think that they are ready to do that.
As for Glass, if McIlrath is on the roster, he may very well be expendable. And Stoll’s play was pretty droll last night (I have been waiting a while to write that; stop rolling your eyes). He did a decent job in the face off circle but other than that, meh. One or both are the likely last cuts by the Monday deadline.
So its Stalberg and Lindberg that the team needs to be thinking about in my opinion. Lindberg won the 2015 Lars-Erik Sjoberg Award as the Rangers top rookie in training camp last night (last year it was won by Anthony Duclair). He was outstanding in the face off circle and notched an assist. But more than that, he was good at both ends of the ice and has excellent vision.
Stalberg notched a goal last night, but frankly it was just because he was standing in front of a crowded net on a shot by Ryan McDonagh and it happened to hit him. He was okay, but I was not thrilled. His stats are fine, but seeing him on the ice is not exciting in any way and he does make defensive mistakes that can cost the Rangers if he does not tighten up his game.
* Lundqvist is “ready”, as confirmed by AV last night.
* The Rangers may make their final cuts as early as Friday.
* Miller had a tremendous goal last night. His moves around his D-man were impressive. According to JT, he had never done that move before. Really really talented offensive player. AV mentioned in his very brief post-game remarks that Miller still needs to work on his defensive play, but personally I think that he is ready for a top six role.
* Tomorrow (Friday) is an open practice at 11 am. Watch it on MSG network from 11-1.