The New York Rangers suddenly find themselves trailing 2-1 in their best-of-seven series with the Pittsburgh Penguins after taking Game 1 in Pittsburgh. Penguin shutouts on back-to-back nights have shifted the balance of the series, and the Rangers haven’t scored a goal in over six periods. New York’s last goal came in overtime of Game 1.
Offense has been a problem, and Ryan McDonagh is one player who has not met his high expectations. This season McDonagh established himself as New York’s best defensemen from an offensive standpoint. He led all Rangers defensemen with 14 goals in the regular season but has yet to see his name on the score sheet this postseason, not even for an assist.
In 10 playoff games this season, McDonagh has zero points and is a minus-four. That’s shocking to say the least, especially considering McDonagh gets more ice time than any other Ranger. He leads the team in ice time this postseason, averaging 24:46 per game. Of course, New York doesn’t rely on McDonagh to score goals; they have other players who are supposed to step up and do that. Still, zero points in 10 playoff games begs the question, how healthy is McDonagh right now?
McDonagh suffered a shoulder injury on Apr. 1 against the Vancouver Canucks and missed the final five games of the regular season. With the playoffs looming, McDonagh may have been forced to return before he was 100 percent healthy. He didn’t seem to play as physical as usual at times during the first round, so the shoulder could be bothering him somewhat. Fatigue could also be a factor at the end of a long and demanding season, especially with the minutes McDonagh is used to logging.
He has led all New York defensemen in shots this postseason with 15, and at this point the Rangers need scoring from anyone who can step up and do it. In the playoffs production is needed from your top players, and McDonagh qualifies as a top player for the Rangers.
It would also be a huge confidence builder individually for McDonagh if he can break his pointless streak. During the regular season his longest drought was six games without a point. McDonagh is on his way to doubling that number in the playoffs if he doesn’t record a point in the next couple of games.