Rangers at Flyers … It’s Go Time! … Rangers look to answer some defense questions


PHILADELPHIA  – Rangers coach Alain Vigneault still has some tough decisions to make among his forwards, but the ones he makes on defense can be make-or-breakers.

Or could force the Rangers to make a move for help.

Because so far, the Rangers’ defense has not established itself in terms of 1-through-7 through training camp and three preseason games.

So Monday night, in preseason game No. 4 here against the Flyers, Vigneault and his staff, including new assistant coach in charge of defense, Jeff Beukeboom, had their eyes wide open on the six men on the blue line.

Ranagers captain Ryan McDonagh made his preseason debut along with fellow World Cup returnees Derek Stepan and goalie Henrik Lundqvist. McDonagh, of course, is the least of the Rangers’ worries.

More interesting is that Nick Holden, obtained from Colorado at the draft, slid over from his natural left position to play the right side, which is the complicated question mark among the defense.

The Rangers know they will have McDonagh and Marc Staal – who has drawn rave reviews from Vigneault for his camp to date — on the left, and Kevin Klein on the right. Dan Girardi, coming off a dreadful year, and having struggled in the previous two preseason games, is the presumptive other given on the right side, though “given” might be a stretch. Then you have righties sophomore Dylan McIlrath, who has never seemed to earn Vigneault’s trust, and newcomer Adam Clendening, who has shown some offensive flashes, but is still an unknown defensively.

So it’s complicated.

“Yes and no,” Vigneault said. “I feel, and I’ve watched Nick work on the right side in practice and he’s played well. You can tell he’s comfortable there. Brady (Skjei), to a certain extent, would be more of a work in progress.”

McDonagh is a candidate to slide to the right, but why would you want to compromise your No. 1 defenseman? There was some hope that Skjei could so it, since he did it late last season and in the playoffs. But his preseason has, to say the least, been bumpy.

“Brady, right now, he’s a young player going through the process,” Vigneault said. “I think he was a little bit better (in his second game, Saturday in Newark) than he was in his first game. But I still think there needs to be improvement there also. So there’s a whole bunch of things going on now and we’re trying to sort it out the best we can.”

The combinations in this puzzle are almost endless. Vigneault said  there could be two to three decisions on defense going into Thursday’s preseason finale.

“You know, for a lot of Ds right now, some of them I’ve liked more than others. Some – I don’t want to get into specifics – but some have not played to my expectations. So that, in a sense, has made it a little bit challenging as far as our decisions to make.

“We’ve got three more games. They’re very important for the play of certain players as far as, some we might have though could play in our top six and top four battling for seventh, eighth, ninth. Some have exceeded our expectations, some have not met them. So these next games are important to a few guys on defense, and up front also. That’s why you have these games and why you have training camp. It’s demanding. Some guys are playing a lot of games. It’s just the way it is.”

Staal, one of many Rangers who need – and whom the Rangers need – to have a big bounce-back season, so far has impressed Vigneault.

“I liked his game, I liked both of his last practices. Very detail-oriented, very focused, working very hard, and you can sense that he’s strong and powerful on the ice, making good decisions with the puck. So I’m very happy where he is right now.”

“I’m comfortable with what I’m seeing from Marc. He’s come to camp with the right frame of mind, in a good place, and everything I’ve seen in practice, it’s not what I was seeing last year at the beginning of the season where it’s a guy just coming back from an injury and trying to find his groove. He came in healthy, he’s looking real good, and he’s been real good with his teammates.”


Tonight’s probable lineup:
Jimmy Vesey-Derek Stepan-Rick Nash
flyers logo smallBrandon Pirri-Kevin Hayes-Pavel Buchnevich
J.T. Miller-Marek Hrivik-Robin Kovacs
Tanner Glass-Maxim Lapierre-Malte Stromwall
Ryan McDonagh-Adam Clendening
Ryan Graves-Dylan McIlrath
Chris Summers-Nick Holden
Henrik Lundqvist
Mackenzie Skapski


·         Oct. 2, 1981 – The Rangers acquired Mike Rogers in a trade with the Hartford Whalers. Rogers tallied 103 points in his first season with the Rangers in 1981-82, becoming the third player (at the time) to register 100 or more points in a season with the Rangers (along with Jean Ratelle and Vic Hadfield, who both accomplished the feat in 1971-72).

·         Oct. 3, 1991 – Adam Graves made his debut with the Rangers, wearing jersey No. 11.

·         Oct. 3, 1997 – Brian Leetch was named the 23rd captain in Rangers history.

·         Oct. 3, 2008 – Chris Drury was named the 25th captain in Rangers history.


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Photo by Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports.





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  1. The words ‘process,’ ‘template,’ and ‘diorama’ should get AV through another season with everyone wondering what he’s talking about.

  2. Methinks if Donuts is healthy, not moved to his off side, and given a reliable partner, we might see the old flash.

  3. Looks like Step just stood there, should have grab him at least.
    Mcllrath is the man, that’s why he must be in line up every night.

  4. matty"CleanThatSlate"Boy on

    Ricardo, Coos, E3, Boys, good to see you all!! Hope you all had a nice summer.

  5. This is why last year I didn’t watch a single ranger game in the 2nd half, including the playoffs. The flyer goon takes a dirty cheap shot at a ranger player, McIlrath grabs the goon to kick his butt, gets attacked from another flyer player and the flyers end up with a freaking power play, nhl is a joke, can’t stand it anymore, maybe I’m getting old.

  6. matty"CleanThatSlate"Boy on

    Yea, MacI should have pulled Step aside and hit him for not standing up for his baby teammate. Hope the kids ok.

  7. not to mention I have no idea what all the other ranger players who were on the ice doing, bunch of wimps.

  8. groundhog year same as last…nash had a nice pass though!…only excitement came from cheap shot and wrath only 1 doing anything about it…sleepfest

  9. Still ? by NHLDPS on

    Is he fighting for a roster spot? Awfully nasty hit for preseason, drove with his knee into the small of VC’S back.

  10. Did Peter Forsberg ever get slammed head first into the boards?

    How long before Flyers change the name of their arena again? “Wells Fargo” doesn’t have the same appeal these days, does it?

  11. How the hell does Voracek get away without a 3rd man in? Can the discipline dumbasses retroactively suspend him for a penalty he SHOULD’VE gotten?

  12. matty"CleanThatSlate"Boy on

    I was wondering if Vescey would be a bit of a target for the way he engineered his first job in the NHL. Not saying that hit says ‘yes’, but I am interested to see.

  13. Bout if the century Stepan Vs Probert…..I give the nod to Probert. Given he’s dead and all

  14. Best fighters to walk the earth pound for pound:

    1. Muhammad Ali
    2. Rocky Marciano
    3. Sugar Ray Leonard
    4. Derek Stepan
    5. Joe Louis

  15. Still ? by NHLDPS on

    Joe with good view of that hit & the non fight. How can McWrath get fighting misconduct without fighting?

  16. The only thing bad about Goonass getting a game misconduct is McIlrath can’t beat the crap out of him now.

  17. leetchhalloffame on

    I would rip the “A” right off Stepan’s sweater with that wimpy reaction he had after the philthy Goodass hit. God bless McIlrath. Better find a place for him in the top 6 AV.

  18. Wow…once again protect the perp. How is that not 3rd man in on voracek?

    Opie the victim has everyone stand up for him but won’t do anything for a teammate…joke. No way he should have a letter, none!

    Can’t wait for carp to say, see mcilrath was in the game and someone still got a cheap shot ;)

  19. STILL ? BY NHLDPS on OCTOBER 3, 2016 7:59 PM
    Joe with good view of that hit & the non fight. How can McWrath get fighting misconduct without fighting?

    -because the nhl and there refs are the biggest joke in all of pro sports.

  20. there is no doubt that McIlrath’s skating has improved, haven’t seen McIlrath do anything better or worse than any other ranger defensemen, he should make the team.

  21. matty"CleanThatSlate"Boy on

    E3, my brutha. This is the year we meet at the finals. SJ at MSG, game 5. Book it!

  22. matty"CleanThatSlate"Boy on

    RIck, nice to see you and be here at ‘THE BEST DARN BLOG on the ‘NET!!!!!!”

    Thanks, in advance, for a great year ahead, my friend!!

  23. matty"CleanThatSlate"Boy on

    I’m just gonna say this once, early on. It sure looks like they worked on their PP in the off season. Crisp, clean passes. Nice shots!! Looking brandy new!! (S)

  24. the 1st game of the season with the new center they got in the brassard trade playing, the rangers power play looked really good, hasn’t since but that could be because of the players who are playing those games.

  25. Don’t worry folks Gudas will surely receiv suspension most likely next 2 preseason games.

  26. Skapski will have a big year in Greenville. And on the first goal, who puts Lapierre and Glass out there together and does not expect to be scored on?

  27. It would still be at least 1-0, if not tied, if the refs weren’t such idiots. Hope this level of reffing doesn’t continue into the regular season. Smh

  28. Maloney singing the praises of having glass in the lineup and Joe saying he’s faster…look out glass haters

  29. No, The Undertaker didn’t prevent the problem, but without him (or Glass) intervening, humiliation is added to ignominy.

  30. matty"CleanThatSlate"Boy on

    I wonder how Nash feels about now. Rangers tried to shop him. No bites. Must not be too good a feeling to not be wanted….anywhere in the league.

  31. Matty
    Yep, agree bro

    Yep it’s all Lapierres and glass fault…if it was stepan and zucc, it would be the goalies fault…biased much?

  32. didn’t preventit but will be some excitement next time they play w/o big hits and fighting we have the ice capades…carp would love it

  33. key ryst piris a sniper…we dont have any of them…get rid of him we need a spot for glass

  34. matty"CleanThatSlate"Boy on

    we actually have a few players that will drive to the net. good to see.

  35. matty"CleanThatSlate"Boy on

    Well, good comeback, for whatever it means to team psyche. Some guys showed skill and speed. Good 3rd.

  36. Carp, I made an early comment about the refs with nothing even resembling a swear word that caught moderation. What the…

  37. matty"CleanThatSlate"Boy on

    Yes, it’s preseason. MacD needs to watch the tape. The other players shouldn’t watch that lack of drive from the guy with the ‘C’ on his jersey. Especially after not making a run in the PO’s last year.

  38. few things about tonight’s game, Flyers still stink, amazing they made the playoffs last year, they won’t make it this year and stepan was brutal in this game, look like stepan played like it was a pick up game on a pond in the middle of the winter. Rangers are to loose in there own zone and it doesn’t matter who they have on defense.

  39. Didn’t Joe Micheletti inform us that McDonagh had put on an extra five pounds in the off-season? He should have used them on that Voracek goal.

  40. That’s on all 3 of them, but especially McD. Get over it though, it’s just a pre-season game.

    Just say NO to Laperierre.

  41. Rangers cuts tonight. more tomorrow perhaps.

    Calle Andersson, Chris Brown, Steven Fogarty, Ryan Gropp, Tommy Hughes, Philip McRae, Michael Paliotta, and Adam Tambellini have all been assigned to the Hartford Wolf Pack of the American Hockey League (AHL).

  42. I’m a little less inclined to blame Nash for the ot goal as he should have the clefs D man…mcdonut needed to put his big boy pants on there…stepan is an embarrassment, but at least he isn’t making 6.5 mil per season…oh, wait

  43. I figured out who Pirri reminds me of, and it somebody who I did not like at all as a Ranger, Darren Turcotte.
    I see the silly Stepan bashing has started. Well done, it only took his first pre season game.
    Buchnevich needs to stay.

  44. Also, for a team who has one of the poorest prospect pools in the league, they sure have a lot of young players who can play. Kovacs, and Stromwall are going to play in the NHL. As is Graves. Angry Miller is a very good Miller.

  45. Still,think,the,best way to,cut down on these ugly hits, is to suspend the coach with the player. What coach is going to put Gudas on the ice knowing that he is going to get him suspended.

  46. Get rid of the instigator and stop protecting the perp, that will significantly reduce those hits.

    Ah that silly stepan bashing that has a lot of merit.

  47. How about the first suspension for such a hit or hit to the head is 5 games without pay and $100K fine split between the player and coach (which cannot be paid by the team)? Escalate both for each subsequent offense. Most coaches don’t make that much money so they would feel that financially and many guys making these cheap shots aren’t making a ton either so there would be some hit to their wallets as well (though Gudas actually makes over $3m/yr!)

  48. It has none Wicky, none. How wise would it have been for Stepan to go after Gudas, and then get hurt. Obviously the guy is not a fighter. As far the OT goal goes, pre season, who cares. It not as if they are playing for a point. If it was regular season, chances are McD pulls him down and takes a penalty. And if Stepan or Nash do that in OT during the regular season, I will be the first to go after them

  49. Gudas is a criminal on skates.
    What’s worse? Girardi watching Gaborik get annihilated by Carcillo or Stepan watching VZ get almost killed by Gudas?
    LOL @ all the “doom and gloom” comments after a *pre-season* loss.

  50. Tried to tell you guys someone was gonna get banged up tonight. Naturally it’s Vesey.
    I see the PP stinks again. I guess whatever Arniel said to Pirri while chewing him out over that PP goal last week was successful. They’re back to struggling from what I heard on the radio.

  51. I don’t remember anyone saying he should drop the gloves, so no reason to go to that extreme. Also no reason he can’t give gudas a facewash or two or jump in on voracek when he went third man in, but whatever stepan is the greatest centre I the league and just like Gretzky. Don’t want him breaking a nail on those 100 point a season hands (see, I can go to extremes too).

  52. Hey Carp,

    Off topic – and don’t mean to be lazy about it but just popped in my head after seeing one of your tweets. If Gilbert once of the nicest dudes to wear the sweater? Gravy is the one who was here when I came up so forgive me for not looking past his story and contributions (and his family’s) and recognize all the great work players past and present have done. I just seem to notice him a lot more in the past couple year – impressed by his handle on new media like Twatter and such – and in no way mean that in a condescending or derisive way. Ive probably just been tuned out but I feel like I don’t hear as much about Gilbert as I should…more like it know as much as i should

  53. Stranger Nation on

    Step can’t jump in but Vorachek jumps in to protect Gudas from McDiesel. Not saying Step needs to pound Gudas but maybe a shot in the back of the neck with his stick.
    Disgusting. Wish McDiesel kept his feet and pounded Voracheck into the ice.
    Holden looks good. Smart plays with and away from puck.

  54. Only watched part of the game.

    Commentary on the fighting is the same blather year in and year out. stepan is supposed to drop the gloves!! smart move and if he hurt his hand I am sure all the tough guy fans would be ok with it.

    all i know is glass and the other loser pseudo rat(french former good player forget his stupid name) should be released and or sent down. Is AV the only guy who realizes they stink..

    Have not seen Girardi yet but his leash has to be very short this season. I like the young forward talent…..

    IF a player cannot skate and has no skill they should not play, this toughness BS is BS. The Rangers will be tough enough they need to be skilled enough.

  55. Doodie Machetto on

    I also had the same thought re: third man in. That’s the textbook definition of it, provided that the refs called that a fight.

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