One of the big question marks for the New York Rangers in the playoffs this season is just how healthy No. 1 defenseman Ryan McDonagh is. McDonagh was ironically injured on April Fool’s Day against the Vancouver Canucks in Vancouver, where he was hit up high in the final minute of the game, in which the Rangers ended up winning. But even though the Rangers won that game, it almost felt like a loss because McDonagh showed that he was in a great deal of pain and that his season could have been in serious jeopardy.
Supposedly, though, while never officially releasing the exact type of injury McDonagh had besides saying it was an upper body injury, he was ready to return to the Rangers’ starting lineup a couple of games before the conclusion of the regular season. But since the Rangers already had a playoff spot wrapped up by then, the team felt it was the smart thing to sit McDonagh and give him extra rest before the start of the playoffs.
While I agree with the Rangers’ decision, thanks to the combination of McDonagh’s injury and him not playing since April 1, he started off Game 1 of the first round of the playoffs vs. the Philadelphia Flyers slowly. From losing the puck, making bad passes and getting hit hard behind the net leading to the Flyers’ only goal of the game, but at that time made the score 1-0 Flyers, it is safe to say McDonagh did not get off to the start both he and the Rangers had hoped.
However, by the time the game got to the third period, and the score was tied at one, McDonagh started to return to form and hit his stride. From being sharper defensively to showing his great stick-handling ability in the offensive zone leading to a Rangers’ goal, McDonagh finished the game strong, just like his team, as the Rangers went on to win Game 1 by a 4-1 score.
For the Rangers’ sake, McDonagh’s strong finish to Game 1 has to be the start of something great because he is such a huge key to this Rangers’ team if they are to have any success this postseason.