Opportunity knocks for centers Brian Boyle and Oscar Lindberg
With Derek Stepan's contract standoff continuing, Brian Boyle and rookie Oscar Lindberg are becoming centers of attention.
Boyle, who moved between the pivot and the wing during John Tortorella's regime, scored twice in Sunday's scrimmage as the Rangers prepared for the preseason opener against the Devils on Monday night in Newark. Lindberg, an impressive Swedish youngster, scored once.
"In talking to Brian, the thing that stood out is that he wants to win and be able to contribute in whichever role I think suits him best," said coach Alain Vigneault, who doesn't see Boyle on the flank right now. "I like the way Brian did everything. He was strong away from the puck and when he had the puck, used his size to take it to the net."
Just 1:18 in, the 6-7 Boyle bulled into the crease, and a shot deflected off his skate past Martin Biron. With 1:11 to play, he beat Johan Hedberg with an in-close shot on the man-advantage.
"It's a competitive camp, really good players, new faces who are impressive," said Boyle, who had only two goals and five points in 38 games last season before going 3-2-5 in 11 playoff games. "Doesn't matter how your season went. Some of the veterans and leaders on the team are going to be counted on, but for me, I look at it as a big opportunity to go into a year with a lot riding [on it] and on me, too.
"This is the last year of my deal; I want them to want me. It's something I thought about all summer. I kind of wanted to hit the ground running."
Vigneault said Boyle has asked a lot of questions at video sessions. "I'm trying to learn," Boyle said, laughing. "Maybe I should know the answers. He's teaching. The approach has been up-tempo; he wants to have the puck more and not be in our zone."
Boyle will be in the lineup against the Devils, and Lindberg presumably will face the Flyers in Philadelphia on Tuesday night.
Lindberg, 21, who scored off the rush on a high wrist shot past Cam Talbot in the third period, played in the Swedish Elite League for part of last season. "You can see he's played against men," said Vigneault, who promised that Lindberg will get a "real solid look."
Notes & quotes: LW Chris Kreider, in Tortorella's doghouse for much of last season, will have a shot at a top-six slot, skating with Brad Richards and Rick Nash . . . Henrik Lundqvist and Talbot, who Vigneault said is in the mix for a possible backup job with Biron and Hedberg, will share goaltending duties at Prudential Center . . . The roster has been trimmed to 46, with eight players assigned to the AHL and six others returned to juniors.