Good news and bad news to share as a follow-up to this morning's article. Starting with the good news, defenseman Ryan McDonagh was on the ice for Rangers practice today and will play in tomorrow's game against the Winnipeg Jets at Madison Square Garden, according to Andrew Gross. McDonagh left Saturday afternoon's matinee in Boston during overtime after he was sent head-first into the boards by Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference.
Based on the amount of time that McDonagh remained down on the ice following the hit, the Rangers are very lucky their top pairing blue-liner did not suffer a serious injury on the play. My guess is that he just had the wind knocked out of him since it did look like his rib cage hit the backboards pretty hard.
As for the bad news, defenseman Michael Sauer (concussion) has been kept off the ice for the third straight practice stretching back to last Thursday and Friday. Sauer participated in practice Monday through Wednesday of last week and was making steps toward completing his recovery, but then did not appear on the ice at the end of the week, and now today as well.
Head coach John Tortorella last claimed that he had not received any news of a setback that may have caused Sauer to return to off-ice workouts, but today he had a different story. Tortorella stated to the media that Sauer has been completely shutdown (on and off the ice) as he didn't feel well after a few days of practice.
This is obviously not what the Rangers nor Sauer wanted to hear at this stage, but as we've seen with other players around the league suffering from concussions, it's nothing to mess with. Marc Staal was shutdown for a good month or so before he was able to fully resume with on-ice workouts, so we may see a similar scenario here with Sauer.
And while on the topic of defensemen, here's a tidbit from Larry Brooks' column in the New York Post this morning, urging GM Glen Sather to be on the lookout for another depth d-man....
The Rangers have depth on defense, including Steve Eminger, sidelined with a separated shoulder, and Jeff Woywitka, who presumably would play tomorrow night if McDonagh can’t go against the Jets at the Garden.
So the charge for Sather is not to find just any defenseman, but one Tortorella will trust for major minutes down the stretch.
The Rangers have always liked the Hurricanes’ Tim Gleason, but there’s a question whether he skates well enough for this coach. Sheldon Souray is an interesting proposition, given his ability to bomb away from the power play point, but there’s the question there too regarding his ability to defend, though he is plus-eight averaging 20:29 for the Stars. The rental cost for either is unknown at the moment. And if the Predators indeed make Ryan Suter available, it won’t be for weeks.
It isn’t going to be remotely easy for Sather to come up with a guy for the right price who fits all the requirements, but that’s the assignment the GM must complete, and sooner rather than later.