The Nine

Rangers testing out intriguing new defensive pairing

K’Andre Miller missed Saturday’s practice for “procedural reasons,” but was back on the ice for Sunday’s scrimmage and did so as part of an intriguing defensive pair.

The rookie defenseman was partnered with Jacob Trouba on his right and the duo delivered strong returns that could lead coach David Quinn to keep them together for Thursday’s season opener.

“That’s one of the reasons why we wanted to see them together tonight,” Quinn said after Sunday’s scrimmage. “See what type of chemistry they had, see how they played off each other. Obviously they did a really good job tonight.

“I thought it was a very good pair. … I really like that ‘D’ pair, they certainly take up a lot of space.”

It would be an interesting pairing for the Rangers, putting the skater who played the most minutes on the team last year with the 20-year-old who has yet to play a single minute in the NHL. But Quinn is at least considering it.

“I thought Trouba was the best defenseman out there and I thought by far, it was his best performance of training camp,” Quinn said. “Unfortunately he missed three weeks of training before we came into camp, so he’s gradually gotten better and better.”

The Rangers had opened camp with Tony DeAngelo going to his off-side on the left of Trouba, but they were part of a defense that struggled in Thursday’s scrimmage. By Sunday, DeAngelo was back playing on his natural right side and paired with veteran Jack Johnson. The other pairs Sunday included Ryan Lindgren-Adam Fox, Libor Hajek-Brendan Smith and Tarmo Reunanen-Anthony Bitetto.

“Nothing is permanent at this point,” Quinn said. “But we liked what we saw today from certain pairings.”

Mika Zibanejad participated in Sunday’s morning skate, his first time on the ice with the team during camp after missing the first four practices for undisclosed reasons. But he sat out the scrimmage.

“[We’ll] see if he can practice [Monday],” Quinn said, calling him “day-to-day.”

Alexis Lafreniere scored a goal on Igor Shesterkin in the scrimmage, tying the game in the third period before the final 10 minutes were spent working on the penalty kill. Brendan Lemieux also scored on Alexandar Georgiev.

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