Rangers split weekend games; Staal nearing a return; Decisions to make on defense

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Today's New York Rangers notes.

Good morning folks, and welcome to the final 2013 edition of Monday notes. Have no fear, I'll be back with Monday notes and the rest of the week in 2014. It's truly been fun for me on the Banter so far. Any who, without getting any more sentimental, here are your Monday notes.

Three Stars of the Weekend

Number three: Ryan McDonagh It's kind of just assumed that McDonagh will go out on a nightly basis, match up with the opposition's best forward, and do it all at an elite level. It's time to give the guy a little credit: McDonagh had an even plus-minus this weekend while constantly going up against Alex Ovechkin and Martin St. Louis, while also racking up two assist, and playing a gargantuan 29:53 and 27:26 in each game.

Number two: Mats Zuccarello I said during Sunday's game that one could make an argument that Zuccarello is the Rangers team MVP up to this point of the season. In Sunday night's game, the crafty forward racked up a goal and two assists—all coming on the power play—while creating a ton of chances whenever he was out there.

Number one: Benoit Pouliot The Rangers power play is clicking, and Pouliot has found a home in front of the net. Pouliot scored twice on the power play this weekend, and continues to excel offensively of late.

What you missed

Henrik Lundqvist played much better on Sunday, and made a number of stellar saves on this sequence. Lundqvist got the Broadway Hat for his efforts in Tampa, and was my fourth star of the weekend.

A big effort from the power play, and a big late effort from Lundqvist led the charge as the Rangers held on for a big 4-3 win Sunday night in Tampa Bay. Some recaps of the game against the Lightning. [Blueshirt Banter] [NY Post] [Daily News] [The Record] [Newsday] [Blueshirts United]

Marc Staal continues to progress in his recovery, and looks like he's approaching his return. Anton Stralman and Staal could both be back in the lineup Tuesday in Florida. [NY Post] [Blueshirts Blog] [Newsday]

As the Rangers continue on their road trip, the team needs more from Rick Nash and Lundqvist. [Daily News]

With the Rangers defensemen banged up, and the team's depth being challenged, Michael Del Zotto might too valuable to move right now. [Daily News]

Having just played their 40th game, a New York Rangers midseason report card. [Newsday]

Despite a solid effort from the Rangers Friday night, a late Capitals goal felled New York, and the Rangers dropped a game in Washington. [Blueshirt Banter] [NY Post] [Daily News] [Newsday]

Top Rangers storylines of 2013 [NY Post]

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