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Time Will Tell Who Staal Will Pair With

by Matthew Calamia / New York Rangers

Rangers defenseman Marc Staal will have a new partner on the blueline in 2014-15, it's just a matter of who.

While no line combinations or defensive pairings are set in stone — especially on the first official day of training camp — the adjustment to any new parter will be something Staal must get acclimated to throughout training camp and the preseason.

"It's obviously different with every different guy you play with," Staal told reporters Friday after taking part in his first session of training camp. "You start to get used to your partner doing ertain things on the ice. It's almost automatic and you stop thinking about it when you're in a game, it just becomes reactionary having to communicate.

"That part of it just takes time," Staal added. "I'm not sure how long it will take."

Staal skated in Group A drills on Friday with newly acquired Dan Boyle, whom the Rangers agreed to terms with on a contract this summer. Boyle, it would appear, would be the one to replace Anton Stralman, Staal's regular partner over the last two seasons.

Boyle, 38, spent the last six seasons with the San Jose Sharks. In his last season with the Sharks, Boyle posted 12 goals and 36 points. Last season, Stralman scored one goal and 13 points.

If head coach Alain Vigneault does in fact pair Staal and Boyle together, Staal said he sees similarities between the two blueliners.

"[Boyle] can move the puck," Staal said. "Stralman was great at making little plays out of our end to get us out of trouble. Boyler can do the same. He's very smart, [has] good hands and a great sense of the game. That part of it is very similar. He knows where to put the puck and get us out of trouble."

With the changes, Staal said whomever he is paired with, chemistry must be developed, and that's what the preseason is for.

"When you're starting out, talking to each other — even certain dialogue on the ice that he's used to using or I'm used to using; that changes a lot from team to team," Staal said. "I think the more scrimmages and game time that we put in together, the more natural it becomes."

The time starts now, and the games begin Monday night against the New Jersey Devils at Madison Square Garden.

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