ANAHEIM, CA - NOVEMBER 01:  Jesper Fast #17 of the New York Rangers looks on during the third period of a game against the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center on November 1, 2018 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CA - NOVEMBER 01: Jesper Fast #17 of the New York Rangers looks on during the third period of a game against the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center on November 1, 2018 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

First Look Lines

Following the roster cuts on Friday, and the delayed reassignment of Brandon Crawley on Sunday due to injury concerns, the Rangers have reached their 23 player roster, plus the two injured forwards – Matt Beleskey and Cristoval Nieves.

Saturda’s practice saw the team turn out with their first possible line combination following the cuts, and there were few surprises in who will likely end up on the opening night roster, though some of the combinations are sure to generate discussion.

As expected Fredrik Claesson and Tony DeAngelo figure to be the extra defensemen, while Cody McLeod could find himself as the 13th forward going into the season opener.

The top line featured Mika Zibanejad centering Chris Kreider and Pavel Buchnevich, a combination that seemed to work well in the preseason.  Kevin HayesJimmy Vesey and Mats Zuccarello look to be the second line as such while.

On paper at least the bottom two lines appear to have a mix of rookies and offense, with some veteran defense, featuring Filip Chytil centering Jesper Fast and Ryan Spooner, and fellow rookie Brett Howden starting between Vladislav Namestnikov and Vinni Lettieri.

Defensively Adam McQuaid looks like he might be tapped to pair with Brady SkjeiNeal Pionk lines up with Marc Staal and perhaps Brendan Smith with Kevin Shattenkirk.

No change in goal, with Alexandar Georgiev backing up Henrik Lundqvist.

As expected, the defense looks unproven, with none of the combinations having had much time together.  There was some talk last year that Shattenkirk and Smith might be worth trying, and it looks like we’ll see whether the two can find some chemistry together, despite their respective defensive deficiencies.  

The combo of Skjei and McQuaid might help the younger Blueshirt to relax a little and recover some of the early career form he showed, while Staal and Pionk did see some playing time together in the latter part of 2017-18.

The forward combinations also demonstrate some of the challenges this roster has, with so many relatively new faces, as well as overstocking of some positions has lead to some compromises with the underwhelming Namestnikov ending up on the fourth line.  Whether Howden and Lettieri can thrive in a part time role also remain questionable, while Vesey perhaps gets a little bit of the benefit of the doubt to start the year.

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