Playing against Winnipeg on Tuesday night was a showcase for Dylan McIlrath, who played the fourth NHL game of his career while veteran Dan Boyle took a seat.
In evaluating his righthanded defensemen, coach Alain Vigneault said that "Dan and [Kevin] Klein have been a little bit better than Dylan. But [Boyle] hasn't been as good as he was in the playoffs. On that first pass, going back for pucks a little quicker and finding the quick available outlet, he hasn't been as effective. But this is more about seeing Dylan."
McIlrath was busy early, firing a point shot off goaltender Michael Hutchinson's shoulder at 1:40 and then coming back to scoop the puck out of the crease. He logged 12:20 of ice time with two shots and one hit.
Vigneault said that in training camp, McIlrath, 23, "was very dependable. Without the puck, his gap was good; when he got the puck, he made simple, high-percentage plays. Now, everybody's got full lineups, this team [the Jets] is bigger and can skate real well."
Hartford's coaches, Vigneault said, put McIlrath against top lines and on the penalty kill, and were "teaching him when to be physical. He's a smart young man."
Klein gets power-play shotAlthough Vigneault knew that he had "a heavy shot," defenseman Kevin Klein was not used on the power-play point until he replaced Boyle Tuesday night. Why did it take so long? "I'm not the smartest guy in the world," Vigneault said. "Last year, he was playing real well; I didn't see that aspect on the power play, maybe I smartened up." The coaches wanted Klein, who is not a puck mover, to get set and fire, but the Rangers were 0-for-5 on the power play.