The Rangers avoided a costly loss with news that top-pair defenseman Ryan McDonagh is fine after a dangerous hit by Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference during the Rangers 3-2 overtime win in Boston.
Although the hit earned Ference a three-game suspension, McDonagh emerged sore, but relatively-unscathed. The 22-year-old, who has ably performed alongside Dan GIrardi all season, will play Tuesday against the Jets.
McDonagh said the biggest issue on the hit -- which came with less than two minutes to play in the overtime period -- was that he got the wind knocked out of him.
"It's nothing serious, which is really fortunate," McDonagh said.
McDonagh also said did not believe Ference intended to injure him on the play.
"It's a fast play. He's coming in there pretty fast. I've gone back for pucks like that numerous times in my career and, I didn't even realize 'til I watched the ruling video that he clips my skate. That's probably what put me off-balance a little bit. It wasn't intentional or anything like that," he said. "It was an unfortunate play and I'm fortunate that I wasn't seriously hurt."
Given the injuries the Rangers have sustained on the blue line already this season -- Marc Staal missed the first three months with a concussion, Michael Sauer has been sidelined for the past six weeks with one -- coach John Tortorella feels the team dodged a bullet.
Thrust into the top-pair role in Staal's absence for the first half, McDonagh is amidst a breakout season. The former first-round pick averages a whopping 25:18 minutes per game and has contributed four goals and 15 assists in 46 games this season.
"Obviously, Mac has put himself into a situation where he has played to that spot as a shut-down [defenseman], he's not just filling in. He's played to that spot, so that's really important for our team," Tortorella said.
Unfortunately for the 30-12-4 Rangers, the news on Sauer is not so good. After consecutive days of practice with the team last week, the 24-year-old has been shut down from on-ice and off-ice activity. He has not played since suffering the head injury on a hit from Toronto's Dion Phaneuf December 5.
"[Head trainer Jim Ramsay] backed him off. He hasn't really felt that great after a few days on the ice, so Rammer's backed him off and he's just going to go about his business with him," Tortorella said. "I'm just waiting for a "yes" or a "no" with him and right now, it's a "no."