GREENBURGH, N.Y. - Dan Boyle did not appear pleased when he left the ice Monday after practicing as a spare and being replaced on the third defense pair by rookie Dylan McIlrath. Kevin Klein took his spot at the point on the second power-play unit. To observers, it sent a clear signal that Boyle, 39, will not be playing against the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday night.
Alain Vigneault confirmed that Boyle, who has averaged 16 minutes and has one shot and one assist, "can play a little bit better than he's played so far."
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Boyle, whose preseason struggles in his own zone have carried into the first three games, was unavailable after practice. He is in the final season of a two-year, $9-million contract and played only 65 games last season because of injuries. He had nine goals and 20 points in the regular season and three goals and 10 points in 19 playoff games.
With the fourth game of the season looming for the Rangers (3-0), Vigneault said he wanted "to get a look at Dylan, who had a real good camp, as everybody knows, and we're playing against a team that's a little bit bigger. We're going on a game-to-game basis for now."
The 6-5 McIlrath, 23, made his NHL debut Dec. 12, 2013, against Columbus. He said he believes he has come "a far way" since his last appearance Nov. 3, 2014, against St. Louis.
"When I was sent back down, I really just tried to work on my game in Hartford, and like I've said, I had a really good playoff run under my belt now," he said. "So I think I've matured as a hockey player. My practice habits have to be really sharp. I haven't played a game in a couple weeks. I'm playing as best I can [Tuesday night], and whatever happens happens."
McIlrath said his partner, Keith Yandle, "makes it easy to play with. He's talking all over the ice."
Klein is a defense-first blue-liner who had a career-high nine goals last season and has one this season, all at even strength. He has played sparingly on the power play (one goal, one assist) in his 12-year career.
"You want to get the puck in good areas to shoot," Klein said.
Henrik Lundqvist said last season that Klein has the hardest shot on the team.
Notes & quotes: Tanner Glass, who played an effective 12:19 Saturday, will start his second consecutive game on the fourth line. Jesper Fast again will be a healthy scratch, as will forward Emerson Etem . . . Rookie Oscar Lindberg, with four goals in three games, was named the NHL's second star of the week.