New York Rangers Preseason Hockey: "Real Evaluation" Starts Tonight

What to expect from Group A tonight.

Tonight the New York Rangers' "A Group" will be going up against the New Jersey Devils in the team's first preseason game.

The roster for Group A (per Andrew Gross) is below:

Team A: Ryan Bourque, Dan Boyle, Jesper Fast, Tanner Glass, Carl Hagelin, Steven Kampfer, Michael Kostka, Chris Kreider, Danny Kristo, Matthew Lombardi, Henrik Lundqvist, Ryan Malone, Ryan Mantha, J.T. Miller, John Moore, Chris Mueller, Sam Noreau, Mackenzie Skapski, Marty St. Louis, Marc Staal, Derek Stepan, Petr Zamorsky

Team A line combinations: Chris Kreider-Derek Stepan-Danny Kristo, Ryan Malone, Matthew Lombardi, Marty St. Louis, Carl Hagelin-J.T. Miller-Ryan Bourque, Tanner Glass-Chris Mueller-Jesper Fast.

Stepan, for those of you who are unaware, is currently day-to-day after blocking a shot with his foot. Whether or not he plays tonight remains to be seen. In the scrimmage yesterday Andrew Yogan was his replacement.

Just to clarify, there isn't much of a difference between the "A" and "B" groups that will be splitting these first few preseason games. Both groups are a mix of veterans who are essentially assured a spot on the team and kids who are trying to fight their way onto the roster.

Players to watch tonight from Group A:

Boyle: He had a really good scrimmage yesterday and a lot of the people who have watched camp have been impressed by his poise and ability to move the puck. We'll get a chance to see him in action tonight. Hopefully the Devils take a lot of penalties.

Lombardi: I've maintained from the beginning I thought Lombardi was going to make the team out of camp. I can't shake my gut feeling that his speed and potential penalty killing is going to help him get over some of the other names fighting for a spot.

Kristo: With the names in front of him, I really can't see Kristo making the team. With that being said, yesterday he was one of the few players Alain Vigneault personally called out for positive reasons. Kristo has always been a highly skilled player, but due to his age and the players the Rangers brought in this summer I don't see him making the team this year. Vigneault's comments did give me some pause on this, though, which is only a good thing for him. Tonight's a chance to get camp off to an even better start.

Miller: Put Miller in the same category as Kristo above. Vigneault took the time to point out how Miller is putting it together. The Rangers need Miller to play a bigger role this year, and he looked notably faster and more polished in yesterday's scrimmage. Again, a scrimmage isn't anything to hang your hat on, but his performance tonight can be.

Malone: He's trying to make the team and the Rangers probably want him to be good enough to make the team as well. Contrary to popular belief, if he does make the team he will not be pushing Rick Nash down to the fourth line. Still, he's a big body who can cause havoc in front of the net. If he does make it the Rangers only get deeper.

Glass: He scored the first goal of the Rangers' season. You can fight that all you want, it happened and it will never go away.

Things to take away from tonight:

- Remember this is the first preseason game. No one is going to make the team tonight; although I'm sure a player can do a lot of damage to his status in tonight's 60 minutes.

- Remember this is half of what the real Rangers will most likely look like. That means if the power play or penalty kill falters you should not panic. Actually, don't panic at all this preseason.

- Vigneault told the media he wants to use the last couple of preseason games to have the players grow some chemistry, so expect there to be some juggling of lines and such these next couple of games leading up to those final matchups.

That's really it, guys. Real hockey is back!