GREENBURGH, N.Y. — By Wednesday, the Rangers will have pared down their 47-man roster to manageable proportions.
Coach Alain Vigneault said Sunday that there still will be “two or three decisions up front and two or three decisions on defense” remaining after that, and some of those players will be evaluated in Thursday’s preseason finale at Madison Square Garden. “We’re still debating,” he said. “Some guys are making it hard for us.”
Vigneault said he initially thought that night’s lineup against the Flyers, the sixth game of the preseason, would be close to the opening night roster for Oct. 13.
On defense, “some have not played up to my expectations, some exceeded the expectations,” he said. Vigneault singled out Marc Staal for praise, noting that he has been “very focused, working hard, strong, and came to camp in the right frame of mind,” which is different from the last camp when he was coming off an injury. “He came in healthy.” He added that Nick Holden had played well and that the lefty looked comfortable on the right side.
On Brady Skjei: “He’s a young player, was a little better Saturday, but needs to improve.”
Lundqvist to play Monday
The easiest decision is in goal. Henrik Lundqvist will play a half-game on Monday in Philadelphia and the entire game on Thursday. Backup Antti Raanta will be between the pipes for the entire game on Tuesday in Brooklyn. There are currently 28 forwards and 15 defensemen left in camp.
Taking it slow with Zuccarello
Mats Zuccarello was at the practice facility, working out off-ice, but may not play in any of the final three preseason games Thursday. After playing for Norway in the 2018 Olympic qualifying games and then for Team Europe, which went to the World Cup finals against Team Canada, Zuccarello has been given off until Wednesday. “As of now, he won’t play Thursday. I’m not concerned,” Vigneault said. The team has six more days available for practice after Thursday before Oct. 13. But Vigneault said it will be up to the winger if he wants to play on Thursday.
Lineups for Monday night
Jimmy Vesey-Derek Stepan-Rick Nash
Brandon Pirri-Kevin Hayes-Pavel Buchnevich
J.T. Miller-Marek Hrivik-Robin Kovacs
Tanner Glass-Maxim Lapierre-Malte Stromwall
Ryan McDonagh-Adam Clendening
Ryan Graves-Dylan McIlrath
Chris Summers-Nick Holden
The groin injury suffered by center Josh Jooris early in the first preseason game has kept him from practicing, and Vigneault said that has made any evaluation tough . . . Defenseman Sean Day, 18, the team’s first selection in the June draft, (81st overall) was reassigned to his OHL team in Missisagua.