Deciding on two of four centers and selecting a seventh defenseman aren't the only decisions that Rangers coach Alain Vigneault must make before NHL opening day on Oct. 8. A significant one involves Rick Nash and Martin St. Louis: Should the veteran point producers play on the same line?
St. Louis, a right wing who led the NHL in scoring twice, believes it could work.
"Nasher brings a lot of things I can't bring, like I can't bring size," said St. Louis, who skated with Nash and center J.T. Miller Monday night against the Flyers at Madison Square Garden.
The trio played well, creating numerous chances, but it was forwards battling for roster spots who hit the scoresheet in the 6-3 win, the team's second in three games.
Ryan Haggerty had two highlight-reel goals and an assist and 19-year-old Anthony Duclair had a goal and an assist for four points in his first two games as a Blueshirt.
Jesper Fast added two goals and Chris Mueller also scored and had an assist.
"For a big guy, he's got tremendous hands, and once he gets inside somebody, he's tough to contain," St. Louis said of Nash before the game. "I feel both our games can help each other. My biggest asset is that I can see the ice well and can make plays, and I can give my linemates scoring chances. Nasher has been known to be a goal scorer and there's no doubt in my mind I can help him do that."
This is Nash's second training camp under Vigneault and the first for St. Louis. Vigneault, who praised Nash's conditioning and focus compared with last year's camp, wants to experiment with him on the left wing, where he played early in his career.
Last season Nash played on the right side of the No. 1 line with center Derek Stepan and left wing Chris Kreider, and St. Louis was grouped with longtime friend and former Tampa teammate Brad Richards, who now plays for Chicago. Stepan is sidelined four to six weeks with a broken fibula.
"I thought Rick had some real good chemistry with Step and Kreids," Vigneault said. "This year we're trying to figure out where players fit."
St. Louis is staying on the right, where he played in Tampa, most recently with centers Vincent Lecavalier and Steven Stamkos.
"I knew who my centerman was going to be for a long time," St. Louis said.
How soon would he like to know his linemates this season? "The sooner the better." he said.
Notes & quotes: "Up in the air" was how Vigneault described the search for a seventh defenseman. "Nobody has gone out of their way to grab my attention," he said . . . Ryan Malone (hip flexor) and Matthew Lombardi (groin) sat out and will not play Tuesday night in Philadelphia . . . Dan Girardi (undisclosed injury, precautionary) didn't skate for a second day but is expected to skate Tuesday.