Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Ryan's Hope: Captain Iffy for Game 3

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Ryan's Hope: Captain Iffy for Game 3

Article excerpt

Don't expect to see Ryan McDonagh in the Rangers' lineup tonight for Game 3 of their first-round series against the Penguins as the tied series shifts back to Madison Square Garden.

Unless he is.

The captain has not played since blocking a shot with his right hand April 4, missing the final three regular-season games and the first two games of this series. But he was cleared for contact and was a full participant in the team's practice Monday.

"I would say it's doubtful," coach Alain Vigneault said. "But stranger things have happened before."

The importance of tonight's Game 3 cannot be downplayed. Per the statistical tracking website whowins.com, NHL teams taking a 2-1 lead in a best-of-seven series go on to win the series 68.9 percent of the time. But the Rangers are 2-5 in Game 3s in their first two seasons under Vigneault.

The Rangers' odds of eliminating the Penguins for a third straight season would certainly increase if their best two-way defenseman was able to return. The Rangers managed to gain a split in Pittsburgh with a 4-2 win in Saturday's Game 2 missing McDonagh and fellow veteran Dan Girardi as rookies Dylan McIlrath and Brady Skjei were in the lineup.

"I didn't expect him to skate today with the team," Vigneault said. "He skated on his own [Sunday] and I guess things went well. They decided to try it in practice and, so far, the response I got is that it went well in practice. So we'll see how it responds."

McDonagh skated during line drills on an extra defense pair with journeyman Raphael Diaz, a member of the Rangers' 2014 Stanley Cup Final squad who was recalled from Hartford (AHL) on Monday.

Then again, Diaz worked on the second power-play unit and McDonagh participated in other drills with the regulars so it's easy to say the lineup is to be determined.

"He looked good," said defenseman Marc Staal, who currently makes up half of the top pair along with Kevin Klein. …

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