Injury to Girardi means an opportunity for Rangers’ McIlrath

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One wonders if a few scouts might be in the building for tonight’s Rangers-Sharks game at Madison Square Garden.

That’s because Dylan McIlrath will be in the lineup for the Blueshirts, stepping in to replace injured Dan Girardi.

It’s been reported that the Rangers have explored trading the 24-year-old McIlrath. But with injuries to both Girardi and Kevin Klein, the team needs to keep McIlrath, at least for now. (All three of the aforementioned are right-shot defensemen.)

“I expect him to play well,” head coach Alain Vigneault said of McIlrath, per the New York Post. “He’s just coming in the lineup, and we need him to play to his strengths and give us a good game.”

McIlrath is expected to skate with Brady Skjei on the third pairing, with a top pair of Ryan McDonagh and Nick Holden, and a second of Marc Staal and Adam Clendening.

The Rangers have played reasonably well to start the season. They beat the Islanders in their opener, then fell on the road to Carton Hutton and the Blues, 3-2, despite outshooting them, 35-18.

McIlrath was a healthy scratch for both those games. McDonagh logged 30:08 of ice time against the Blues, as the Rangers were forced to play with just five defensemen for much of the game.

Related: Buchnevich out with back spasms

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