Rangers’ defense looking pretty Wolf Pack-ish tonight

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Ryan McDonagh, Kevin Klein and Dan Boyle are all hurt.

John Moore is suspended.

As such, the New York Rangers are leaning heavily on their AHL affiliate’s blueline for tonight’s tilt against the Blues.

The pairings:

Dan Girardi-Marc Staal

Matt Hunwick-Michael Kostka

Dylan McIlrath-Conor Allen

Girardi (34:50) and Staal (29:33) played gigantic minutes in Saturday’s 1-0 shootout loss to Winnipeg, and it’s safe to expect that to continue. McIlrath and Allen will be making their season debuts tonight, while Kostka will play for just the third time all year. Vigneault recognizes his defensive depth is depleted, but he’s not about to use it as an excuse.

“They’re just part of the game,”  Vigneault said about the losses, per the Bergen Record. “This game is about finding ways to win. That’s what we’ve got to do tonight.

“We’re playing against, in my book, one of the elite teams in the NHL. We’ve got to find ways with our team and that’s what we’re going to do.”

It’s likely many eyes will be on McIlrath tonight. The Rangers’ first-round pick (1oth overall) at the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, the towering defenseman has played in just two career NHL games, far fewer than fellow draft mates Erik Gudbranson (3rd overall, 178 games) and Cam Fowler (12th overall, 278 games).