Rangers Practice Report: McDonagh ready to play, Boyle out with the flu, defense in question for tomorrow

Bobby Bevilacqua

ryan mcdonagh full body good pic 12-15

Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

After missing the last four games, Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh skated today at practice in a contact jersey and announced that he feels good to go for tomorrow night’s nationally televised games against the Chicago Blackhawks.

“Everything that I’ve seen so far, he looks fine,” Vigneault told Jim Cerny of Blueshirts United after practice. “So we’ll see how he responds. Today was his first contact day. If he’s alright tomorrow come optional tomorrow morning, there’s a good chance I’ll put him in the lineup tomorrow night.”

Ryan McDonagh was playing some of his best hockey of the season prior to the concussion he received in the games against the Flyers 10 days ago. McDonagh recorded nine points (2-7-9) in 13 games prior to the injury. He was also beginning to regain his form as a shutdown an excellent two-way, shutdown defenseman. His skating ability, smart decision making with the puck and leadership will be greatly appreciated back on the ice.

Also, McDonagh may be needed back on the ice for more than his abilities on the ice. Dan Boyle missed the practice today with the flu. Boyle has been shouldering a heavy workload lately, skating on the second pair with Marc Staal.

Speaking of Staal, he is a game time decision as well. Him and his wife are expecting a child tomorrow, which could take him out of the lineup. Alain Vigneault said there currently aren’t any plans to call someone up from Hartford, but that could change.

If Boyle misses tomorrow’s game, then Dylan McIlrath could easily slide into his spot. Hopefully Vigneault gives him more than 13 minutes a night, but he may be forced to. If Staal is also out, then the Rangers could recall Brady Skjei again. Skjei played excellently in his NHL debut, and was okay in his second start. Another NHL game against a good team could give him a taste of what it’s like every night at the NHL level.

If McDonagh returns, then Vigneault has some decisions to make about the lineup. The first would be who gets paired with the captain. The natural choice would be Girardi, who usually gets paired with him. But I would go with Kevin Klein. McDonagh and Klein have played really well together, and that has been the best and most productive pairing with McDonagh.

Also, Keith Yandle and Dan Girardi have played really, really well together lately. Yandle needs to keep playing around 22 minutes a night, because he’s scoring more and he’s making the Rangers a better and more dangerous team. Yandle and Girardi have balanced each other out, and they cover up each other’s flaws.

We’ll see what the lineup looks like after tomorrow’s morning skate. Follow The Ranger Zone on Twitter for instant updates and opinions.

Posted on February 16, 2016, in Rangers Updates and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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