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At the Rink: Oilers at Rangers

by Dan Rosen

NEW YORK -- New York Rangers defenseman Brady Skjei will make his NHL debut Tuesday against the Edmonton Oilers after getting recalled from Hartford of the American Hockey League earlier in the day.

The Rangers are 2-6-2 in their past 10 games. The Oilers have won six consecutive games, including a 7-5 victory against the Rangers at Rexall Place on Friday. The Oilers haven't had a winning streak longer than six games since the 2000-01 season, when they won nine in a row from Feb. 20-March 13.

"There's no doubt that [Edmonton] right now is on a roll," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. "We're going to have to be at our best right now. This team right now is one of the better teams in the League and we're going to have to be real good."

Skjei is taking defenseman Dan Girardi's place in the lineup and forward Jarret Stoll's place on the roster. Girardi will miss the game with a knee injury. Stoll was claimed by the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday after being waived by the Rangers on Monday.

The Rangers are also without defenseman Kevin Klein, who will miss his seventh consecutive game with an oblique injury. Klein has been skating with the Rangers this week, but wearing a yellow non-contact jersey.

Skjei, 21, leads all Hartford defenseman with 11 points in 27 games this season. He was the Rangers' first-round pick in the 2012 NHL Draft (No. 28) and is in his first full professional season after finishing a three-year career at the University of Minnesota last season.

"I liked his training camp, but you could tell at the time that he needed some games in the American [Hockey] League to improve his overall game," Vigneault said. "He's done that. He's going to get a first opportunity tonight and we'll see how he does."

Vigneault said he has received positive reviews on Skjei from Hartford coach Ken Gernander.

"He's been very impressed with his overall skating ability, the fact that he competes real hard," Vigneault said. "They see him as a good defensive type defenseman that has that ability, because of his skating, to be able to jump up into the attack when the opportunity is there."

Skjei will give the Rangers four lefties on defense. To accommodate, Vigneault said captain Ryan McDonagh, a lefty, will move to the right side and be paired with another lefty, Marc Staal. The remaining defensemen -- lefties Skjei and Keith Yandle, and righties Dan Boyle and Dylan McIlrath -- will be interchanged depending on how New York is playing and which players Edmonton puts on the ice.

McDonagh has played sparingly on the right side this season. He played well there for the United States in the 2014 Sochi Olympics, where he was paired with Ryan Suter of the Wild.

"Maybe I get to utilize the one-timer a little bit more in the offensive zone with my forehand facing the middle," McDonagh said. "I can get the puck moving up quick and be on that off wing coming up the ice. Hopefully that transfers to some offense."

Here are the projected lineups:


Taylor Hall - Leon Draisaitl - Teddy Purcell

Jujhar Khaira - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Jordan Eberle

Matt Hendricks - Mark Letestu - Lauri Korpikoski

Luke Gazdic - Anton Lander - Iiro Pakarinen

Darnell Nurse - Andrej Sekera

Nikita Nikitin - Justin Schultz

Brandon Davidson - Eric Gryba

Anders Nilsson

Cam Talbot

Injured: Connor McDavid (clavicle), Nail Yakupov (ankle), Benoit Pouliot (undisclosed), Oscar Klefbom (undisclosed), Rob Klinkhammer (foot)

Scratched: Andrew Ference


Rick Nash - Derick Brassard - Mats Zuccarello

Chris Kreider - Oscar Lindberg - Jesper Fast

J.T. Miller - Kevin Hayes - Viktor Stalberg

Tanner Glass - Dominic Moore - Emerson Etem

Marc Staal - Ryan McDonagh

Keith Yandle - Dan Boyle

Brady Skjei - Dylan McIlrath

Henrik Lundqvist

Antti Raanta

Injured: Derek Stepan (ribs), Kevin Klein (oblique), Dan Girardi (knee)

Scratched: None

Status report: Edmonton didn't have a morning skate at Madison Square Garden because it played and defeated the Boston Bruins 3-2 in overtime on Monday. Former Rangers goalie Cam Talbot made 47 saves for the Oilers in Boston. … Nilsson will start against the Rangers, coach Todd McLellan said according to the Oilers' Twitter feed. The Rangers will counter with Henrik Lundqvist… McLellan also said it's possible Klinkhammer returns to the lineup. He hasn't played since Oct. 27. He has missed 21 games.

Who's hot: Hall has five goals and four assists in the past five games, but he didn't have a point in Boston on Monday. … Eberle had three points on a goal and two assists against the Bruins, giving him seven points, including four goals, in the past five games. … Nugent-Hopkins had two points against Boston.


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