MONTREAL -- After a disappointing team-wide performance in a 4-1 loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday, Rangers coach Alain Vigneault continued to juggle his lineup, with two and possibly three players who were healthy scratches returning against the unbeaten Canadiens Thursday night.
Defenseman Dan Boyle, a healthy scratch for the first time since 2008 (when his daughter was born), will be back. Rookie Dylan McIlrath returns to the sidelines after getting 12 minutes of ice time on the third pair.
Boyle was forthright after practice Wednesday, saying he "didn't deserve" to dress given his recent play. But Vigneault, who could use Boyle's experience on a power play that went 0-for-5 against the Jets, said the veteran, who was back on the second defense pair with Marc Staal, understands that "he needs to go out and execute. He's a good player."
The other adjustments will come on the fourth line, which was pinned down and outplayed by the Jets' fourth trio. Judging by practice, Jesper Fast will replace Tanner Glass, who started on the left side for the past two games. Glass was effective Saturday against Columbus, but not on Tuesday.
"Had some bad turnovers," Fast said. "I need to bring back my confidence with the puck. Last year, I built it up when I played, I need to find a way back there. Maybe don't think too much."
Dom Moore centered the fourth line in practice, but veteran Jarret Stoll rotated at wing with Emerson Etem, who is bigger and faster than Stoll. That could be helpful against the quick Canadiens, who are 4-0 and will be fired up for their home opener at Bell Centre.
If Etem dresses, it would be his first regular-season appearance since he was acquired, with a second-round draft pick, from Anaheim for Carl Hagelin.
Vigneault said that he wanted to finish reviewing video of the Canadiens before making a lineup decision, but acknowledged that Etem "possibly might play."
"I've been trying to build my game and my knowledge [of the system]," said Etem, who played in four preseason games but "did not dislodge" any of the starting forwards, according to Vigneault. Etem said he had to "win the 50-50 battles for the puck and make good decisions."
Notes & quotes:Henrik Lundqvist, who has allowed nine goals in four games, will start his fifth straight. Vigneault indicated that backup Antti Raanta likely would make his Blueshirts debut on Sunday against the Devils, the first half of a back-to-back set at the Garden. San Jose is in town on Monday.