According to Steve Zipay, Ryan McDonagh was on the ice in a contact jersey today at practice and was skating with longtime defensive partner Dan Girardi. Both the Rangers' captain and their head coach are confident about his return to the lineup for tomorrow's game against the dangerous Chicago Blackhawks at the Garden.
McDonagh expects to play vs. Chicago. Av sounded positive as well.— Steve Zipay (@stevezipay) February 16, 2016
Although McDonagh may be returning to the lineup for the Rangers, they could be without both Dan Boyle (flu) and Marc Staal (preoccupied bringing a new life into the world) for tomorrow night's game. As spooky as that is against an offense like Chicago's, it also presents an opportunity for Dylan McIlrath to see some more ice time and for the Rangers to take a look at the eighth defender on the depth chart should they make a call-up.
AV says there could be a D callup for two reasons. Staal and wife expecting second child tomorrow. Boyle could still be under weather w/flu— Steve Zipay (@stevezipay) February 16, 2016
McDonagh missed four games with his concussion after being punched by Wayne Simmonds of the Philadelphia Flyers. The unexpectedly quick return of McDonagh might have more impact than just having the Rangers' captain back on the top defensive pairing, it might also mean that the team will be more willing to part ways with star defenseman Keith Yandle.
Yandle played 27:33 Saturday and 25:19 Monday. Not only were those his highest totals of the season, they were tops on the team in two critical wins. It’s hard to see New York staying afloat with both gone.
We might get a good idea of what cards general manager Jeff Gorton is really holding based on how the Rangers use Yandle moving forward with the trade deadline now under three weeks away.
The fact that McDonagh looks like he will be once again paired with Girardi is vexing. There were signs that Girardi was a good fit for Yandle which opened a lot of possibilities for getting more out of the Rangers underachieving group of defensemen, but it appears that things will remain as they were before Wayne Simmonds' gloved fist made contact with McDonagh's head on February 6th.
The Rangers went 3-1 with McDonagh on the shelf with his concussion.