Kevin Klein (and his new haircut) will make his regular season debut tonight at the Garden when the Rangers play the Detroit Red Wings. Detroit has started their season with a record of 0-2-0 on the road.
Klein missed the first three games of the season due to a back sprain. That injury opened the door for Dylan McIlrath to get back into the Rangers’ lineup. With Klein now healthy again McIlrath will be watching tonight’s game in street clothes as a healthy scratch. And there is no way of knowing when we will see him back on the ice.
The defense pairs for tonight’s game against Detroit:
Ryan McDonagh - Nick Holden
Marc Staal - Kevin Klein
Brady Skjei - Adam Clendening
McIlrath found his way back into Alain Vigneault’s doghouse after he dropped the gloves and went after Tomas Hertl on Monday night. McIlrath took two roughing minors to Hertl’s one. The towering Rangers’ defender rode the pine for the third period of the Rangers’ narrow victory over the San Jose Sharks.
“He’s a great guy in the locker room and he’s always stepping up for the guys,” Antti Raanta shared after the game. “Whenever he is on the ice or on the bench he’s always protecting us, so it’s nice to see that. That’s what the people want to see, so it’s good to have a little bit of action there.”
Whether or not we’ll be seeing McIlrath back in the lineup in the near future remains unclear. There has been a lot of talk about the team finally cutting ties with the former first round pick. Some were even suggesting that his game against the Sharks was his “trade audition”.
Klein managed to finish third among Rangers’ defensemen in scoring despite playing in 69 games last season. He was one of three Blueshirts defenders to score nine goals in 2015-16.