The team also rides a five-game winning streak, which matches New York’s longest of the entire season. Ryan McDonagh’s return to form has been an important factor in why the Rangers currently hold the upper hand.
McDonagh returned from injury at the start of the playoffs and didn’t seem completely recovered in the first round. He wasn’t hurting the team, but didn’t play as well as we’ve come to expect.
The evidence was most noticeable in McDonagh’s physical game, which didn’t seem as intense. Perhaps he was trying to avoid further injury before being completely healed, but whatever it was, McDonagh had a rocky start to the playoffs. He went pointless in his first 10 playoff games, but has finally turned the corner and looks like a top-tier defensemen once again.
His resurgence couldn’t come at a better time as the Rangers stand two wins away from the Stanley Cup Finals. It would be the first time in 20 years for the franchise.
McDonagh has made his presence felt in the first two games against Montreal. He already has two goals and four assists in the two games, which leads the Rangers. McDonagh’s six points is more than he had scored in his last 18 games combined. He also leads the Rangers in shots on goal in the series with nine.
On defense, his physical play has been much better of late, and it shows that McDonagh is finally healthy. The biggest key to his success lately has been his confidence with the puck. McDonagh hasn’t hesitated, whether it be moving the puck in the defensive zone or shooting it in the offensive zone, McDonagh has made all the right plays.
Playing a combination of smart and aggressive is something that New York has come to expect from McDonagh. He has to play smart, considering he gets more ice time than other Ranger besides Henrik Lundqvist. He plays so much because he rarely makes mistakes and can contribute on both ends of the ice.
McDonagh’s certainly a key piece in the Stanley Cup puzzle for the Rangers, so they’ll need his strong play to continue.