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Klein's Uncertainty Puts Rangers Move on Hold

Vigneault Says The Team Will Keep 8 Defenseman for Start of Season

by Matt Calamia @MattCalamia / NYRangers.com

Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault said Monday that his preference was to have seven defenseman for the start of the season. While that will be the case, it isn't the way Vigneault had in mind.

Vigneault said Tuesday that Kevin Klein has missed the last two days of practice with back spasms, and his status for Thursday's season-opener against the Islanders is uncertain.

"At this point in time we felt the back spasms were not serious," Vigneault said. "Still feel that way but we're going to double check. He's going to get an MRI this afternoon and we'll see how he feels tomorrow."

Klein's injury leaves the Rangers with seven healthy defensemen, thus sending one blueliner down - as Vigneault had said Monday that he wanted to - will not happen.

"It just means at this time, here, we've got seven healthy defensemen," Vigneault said.

With Klein out of practice, Vigneault had Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi paired together, with Marc Staal on Nick Holden's left, and Brady Skjei alongside Adam Clendening. Dylan McIlrath was paired with the injured Oscar Lindberg.

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Forward Rick Nash was named a Rangers alternate captain, joining Derek Stepan, Marc Staal and Dan Girardi with the 'A's on their sweaters.

"It's an honor to whenever you get represented with a letter - especially for an organization that's had so many good leaders through the years. It's an honor to wear."

Vigneault said Nash's experience with the team was a deciding factor in him getting the alternate captain role.

"After talking with captain Ryan McDonagh and having not replaced Marty St. Louis, Ryan and I discussed different possibilities, felt that Rick with his past experiences would be a great fit and a big help to him."

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In a training camp filled with standout performances, there was one that Vigneault was plesantly surprised wtih above all.

"I'd probably have to say Pavel," Vigneault said. "Not knowing much on him other than what our scouts say. He's come in and he's fit in real well, real good personality, trying to understand the language, trying to communicate as much as he can with his teammates. He's been fun to be around."

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