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Morning Skate Notebook: Chytil to Hartford; Cracknell Debuts

Plus Shattenkirk on Facing Blues, Project LIneup

by Matt Calamia @MattCalamia / NYRangers.com

Despite being assigned to the American Hockey League, coach Alain Vigneault did not rule out a return to Broadway for Filip Chytil.

The 18-year-old, who was a healthy scratch Sunday after being used in a limited role through his first two NHL games, will play this weekend for the Hartford Wolf Pack before the organization reassess whether a recall is needed next week.

"He hadn't played much the last couple games and didn't play the last game. When talking with [General Manager] Jeff [Gorton] yesterday, we felt he needed to play," Vigneault said. "Like we had mentioned before, it's a day-to-day situation here. The best thing for him right now is to go and play a couple games in Hartford on the weekend."

But the decision to send the 2017 first-round pick to Hartford rather than back home to the Czech Republic leaves the possibility for a quick return to New York for Chytil. That decision could come next week.

"Yes," Vigneault said when asked if that decision left the door open for a return. "We haven't quite made up our mind on him and the makeup of our team," So we're looking at both at this time. We feel that right now he needs to play. He can play in Hartford and we need to sort out a couple things here also."

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Newly acquired winger Adam Cracknell, who was claimed off waivers Monday from Dallas, will make his Rangers debut tonight against the St. Louis Blues.

The 32-year-old said he was excited for the chance to play in New York and under assistant coach Lindy Ruff, who coached Cracknell to his best offensive season in the NHL a year ago with the Stars.

"I was excited. It's another opportunity," he said. "I've been in this position before. Playing for Lindy Ruff helped last year. I had such a good season under him. Now I have to build that trust up with a new organization and make sure they made the right decision." 

What, exactly, clicked between the coach and player?

"He gave me an opportunity. Got a lot of minutes and I did well with it," he said of playing under Ruff. "I don't get out of my comfort zone. I'm not too flashy. I got rewarded by just going to the net and getting some lucky bounces. Just playing a simple game, managing the puck in the O-zone, try not to be in our D zone too much. That's where I create all my success around the net."

Vigneault said the addition of Cracknell, who had 10 goals and 16 points a season ago, adds a versatile player to the team's depth chart.

Cracknell is "a fourth-line player, right-handed shot, can play the right wing, can play the middle, can help on the PK," he said. "Just gave us a little bit more depth and we figure that it'd be a good pickup. Lindy said a lot of great things about the young man. We're going to give him an opportunity to show what he can do."

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Tuesday won't be as strange for Kevin Shattenkirk as one would think despite it being the first time he faces the Blues after spending parts of seven seasons with the team.

Instead, Shattenkirk is looking forward to facing friends and old teammates, as the time between the trade that sent him from St. Louis to Washington has afforded him enough separation from his old team to his new one.

"I think it'll be fun," he said. "It's always interesting playing against old teammates and guys you became so close with for so long. I think I've kind of been away from there for what feels like a little bit of a long time now. It might make it a little easier to settle in. Playing them here at home is going to help out a little bit too."

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Vigneault will stick with the Nick Holden and Steven Kampfer pair tonight against St. Louis.

"They competed. They played hard. They weren't perfect," he said. "There were a couple decisions there, but for the most part they competed hard. They waited for an opportunity and they got themselves ready for the opportunity. They played well. Keeping the same lineup."

With Holden and Kampfer sticking, Brendan Smith will be a healthy scratch for the second consecutive game. And after being used mostly on the power play with the team dressing seven defensemen, Tony DeAngelo will also be a scratch tonight.

"What Smitty has to do and Anthony have to do is they've got to get ready, stay ready and when they get the next opportunity they've got to force me to keep them in the lineup by their play," Vigneault said.

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Forward Andrew Desjardins was released from his professional tryout.

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Rangers projected lineup

Chris Kreider - Mika Zibanejad - Pavel Buchnevich
Michael Grabner - J.T. Miller - Rick Nash
Jimmy Vesey - Kevin Hayes - Mats Zuccarello
Paul Carey - David Desharnais - Adam Cracknell

Marc Staal - Ryan McDonagh
Brady Skjei - Kevin Shattenkirk
Nick Holden - Steven Kampfer

Henrik Lundqvist

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