It's getting down to crunch time, and tonight will mark the final game of the Rangers preseason schedule when they take on the Devils. According to head coach Alain Vigneault, only three spots remain to be won, one of which is the battle for the team's seventh defenseman.
From that last nugget, we learned that Dylan McIlrath will begin the season in the minors, as Vigneault said the job for that spot will be won by one of the three of Matt Hunwick, Mike Kostka, and Steven Kampfer. For McIlrath, this seemed like it would be his fate no matter what, as with the top six set, and McIlrath needing playing time more than anything, being the seventh defenseman and sitting in the press box would have served him no good.
Now as for tonight's lineup, and what those other two remaining spots are, judging by who is in, it seems like those other two spots (obviously at the forward position), fall in the bottom six. At this point, it seems like Anthony Duclair has won a spot.
Forwards: Dominic Moore, Oscar Lindberg, Chris Mueller, Matthew Lombardi, J.T. Miller, Chris Kreider, Ryan Malone, Ryan Haggerty, Marek Hrivik, Carl Hagelin, Duclair, Jesper Fast.
Defensemen: Kostka, Dan Girardi, Kevin Klein, John Moore, Hunwick, Kampfer
Goalies: Cam Talbot, Henrik Lundqvist.
Talbot is scheduled to play the full game tonight, and the Rangers next hockey will come this Thursday in St. Louis when New York opens the regular season up against the Blues.