Rangers face off against St. Louis at MSG; McIlrath and Allen make season debut

Bobby Bevilacqua

When the Rangers (5-4-1) take the ice tonight at 7 PM against the St. Louis Blues (6-3-1), four of the defenseman in the starting lineup for New York will be guys that did not play when these two teams first faced off in the season opener.

Recent callups Connor Allen and Dylan McIlrath will both be in the starting lineup tonight, following the injuries to Ryan McDonagh and Kevil Klein.

New York Rangers v Los Angeles Kings

Connor Allen will be making his season debut tonight against the Blues tonight, and could either play with Mike Kostka or Dylan McIlrath. Allen is a capable two-way defender who can move the puck and play solid defense.

The two are not linemates in Hartford, but were teammates last season and roommates for training camp this year.

Allen nearly made the team out of camp last season, and played in three games for the Rangers, where he looked comfortable and moved well with the puck. In eight games in Hartford, he has scored twice and picked up three assists with a minus-one rating.

”I want to use my strengths,” Allen said about his opportunity tonight. “I know I can skate in this league, I can pass the puck pretty well. Try not to do too much and just rely on what I’ve been doing in the minors.”

McIlrath has been a part of the team since he was taken 10th overall in 2010. The big-bodied defenseman skated with the Rangers for two games last season, and has not picked up any points this season, but has 21 penalty minutes in eight games so far, most of the minutes coming from fights.

“In Dylan’s case, he’s been very dependable defensively,” said Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault. “He’s been playing a physical brand of hockey and [the Hartford coaching staff has] used him quite a bit in killing penalties and they’re please with his progression so far this year.”

dylan mcilrath

Dylan McIlrath will be making his season debut tonight as well, and could play with Matt Hunwick or teammate Connor Allen. McIlrath is purely a defensive-defenseman, and a bruider, who knows when to throw a big hit and stand up for his teammates.

Although the two are not linemates in Hartford, there is a chance that they could play together tonight.

“We know each other really well,” Allen said. “I’d be happy to play with anybody, but it would be fun to play with [McIlrath] too.”

Allen and McIlrath could be here for a few games as well. According to Steve Zipay of Newsday, Klein is not expected to play on Wednesday, and he may even miss the two games this weekend.

Connor Allen will wear number 32, and McIlrath will wear number 42.

Another Ranger may be out of the lineup tonight as well. Mats Zuccarello appeared to have been banged up in the second period of Saturday’s game against the Winnepeg Jets. He finished the game, but is questionable for tonight’s game with a lower body issue.

If Zuccarello is not available tonight, Ryan Malone, who cleared waivers this afternoon, would play in his place. Zuccarello is a game time decision.

Zuccarello 10-27

Mats Zuccarello could miss tonight’s game against St. Louis with a lower body issue he suffered during Saturday’s game. If Zuccarello is out, Malone will take his place.

In other news, Derek Stepan was cleared for contact today, but will not play tonight. There is a chance that he will play on Wednesday against the Red Wings.

Martin St. Louis may be back on the right wing for tonight’s game. St. Louis has been steady at center, but has clearly not been the offensive force he is known to be throughout his career at that position. With a St. Louis shift to the wing, the centers would be Derick Brassard, Kevin Hayes, Dominic Moore, and Chris Mueller.

The Rangers have managed to earn points in five of their last six games (4-1-1), and are coming off of one of their best games of the season, despite losing in the shutout by a score of 1-0. The Rangers controlled play, recorded 38 shots on goal, and played great defense despite being down two defensemen.

The Blues have won four straight, and have done so with tight defensive play and timely offense, winning by 1 goal three times and by two goals once.

They have received great goaltending from Bryan Elliot, who has a 1.96 GAA and a shutout in seven starts. Vladimir Tarasenko has been the best offensive player for St. Louis, with six goals and 11 points along with a plus-eight rating in ten games this season.

This will the second, and final, matchup between these two teams for this season. The Rangers won the first matchup in a 3-2 thriller, with Rick Nash scoring twice, one being the game winner, and picking up an assist as well.

Cam Talbot will get the start tonight against St. Louis, after a long stretch of inactiveness. His last start came on October 11th against the Columbus Blue Jackets, where he surrendered 4 goals on 25 shots.

Minnesota Wild v New York Rangers

After a long stretch of no starts, Cam Talbot will be in net for New York tonight, making his second start of the season.

In the Rangers next start, Talbot replaced Lundqvist in the game against Toronto and stopped all 12 shots that he faced.

Vigneault is hoping to get Talbot more activity in this busy November, and said he would like for Talbot to get 4 or 5 starts.

This game will be a big test for Talbot, as well as the new defensemen. Talbot discussed how he always stays ready so he can go out and “give [the Rangers] the best chance to win.”

mcilrath and allen hartford

Tonight is a big test for Allen and McIlrath, who are both trying to prove to the coaching staff that they can play in the NHL.

McIlrath and Allen, who have a combined 5 games of NHL experience between them, would like to prove to coaching and management that they too are NHL ready, and can help out and serve as long-term replacements for the Rangers.







Duclair-Brassard-St. Louis







Posted on November 3, 2014, in Game Previews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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