Larry Brooks at the New York Post reports that the Rangers defensive pairs are taking shape as Alain Vigneault is likely to go with these units…
Ryan McDonagh-Dan Girardi
Marc Staal-Michael Del Zotto
John Moore-Anton Stralman
Here's Vigneault on his thought process with the defense…
“I like to have a shutdown pair and I like to have a pair that can play with our top line for offensive zone faceoffs. I like the way Michael steps into the attack, and playing with Marc Staal, who is such a good two-way player.”
…obviously McD-Girardi would be the shutdown pair with Staal-Del Zotto playing with the first unit in the offensive zone. I'm a fan of this philosophy. I love Girardi and McD, but no way they should be paired with the first unit for a faceoff in the offensive end.
…now for this to work, Vigneault just has to figure out how to get Del Zotto to hit the net with his shot. In all seriousness, AV is absolutely going to put Del Zotto in a position to succeed offensively whenever he can and it's going to be up to the young defenseman to take advantage.
Vigneault also touched on the recovery of Ryan Callahan and Carl Hagelin from offseason shoulder surgery saying, while neither will likely be ready for the opener on Oct. 3rd, the duo are doing everything in practice but participating in contact drills…
"I think Ryan is a little ahead of Carl as far as shooting the puck. It seems to me Ryan is putting his full weight in and Carl is a little bit more on the safe side, not as committed to the shots."
Brooks adds that chances are Hagelin will be placed on Long Term Injury, thus rendering him ineligible to play for at least the first 10 games.
…everyone recovers differently so I'm not concerned about Hagelin being behind Callahan.
…and to be honest, I'm probably more worried that Callahan might be pushing himself too hard in an effort to get himself ready for the opener. Take it easy Cally, I'd rather you miss the first couple of weeks of the season than coming back too early and miss an extended period of time.
…putting Hagelin on LTIR could hopefully open up enough money to get Stepan signed before the season.