Alain Vigneault gives Henrik Lundqvist and Ryan McDonagh an extra day of rest
GREENBURGH, N.Y. - Did the Olympics take a toll on Henrik Lundqvist and Ryan McDonagh? Apparently.
Both the goaltender and defenseman were given Tuesday off from practice after a discussion with coach Alain Vigneault at the team's casino night for charity in Manhattan on Monday.
"I saw Hank and Mac and after thinking about it after the game [Sunday's 6-3 loss to Boston], I felt both those guys have had a lot of minutes this year," Vigneault said. "Yes [Rick] Nash, Cally and Hags [Carl Hagelin] are all coming back from the Olympics, but they all missed some time because of injury and obviously Zukie's [Mats Zuccarello] hurt and Step [Derek Stepan] didn't play, so I just felt that those guys needed an extra day to totally recuperate, get away from the game a little bit."
"I'm going to talk to Hank tomorrow and I'll go from there."
Lundqvist has played 45 NHL games and six for Team Sweden; McDonagh has appeared in 62 NHL games, averaging 24:33 on ice per game, plus all of Team USA's games.
If Lundqvist, who allowed 10 goals in two games last weekend against Philadelphia and Boston, gets Wednesday off, Cam Talbot (11-5-0, 1.75 GAA, .938 save percentage) who was in goal for the 2-1 win over Chicago in the first post-Olympics game, will get the start against Toronto.
Tuesday's practice came amid the uncertainty about captain Ryan Callahan's future with the team as Wednesday's 3 p.m. trade deadline loomed. Negotiations on a multiyear contract extension continued Tuesday night. It is believed the two sides had agreed on a six-year term, but remained apart on the finances and no-trade/no movement clauses. Callahan, who has said he wants to stay with the team that drafted him in 2004, practiced but did not speak with the media afterward.
"He's the captain of this team, and I'd take him as my captain any day of the week," Vigneault said after practice. "With Cally, what you have is a guy that leads by example, a player that is not afraid to talk to a teammate when he feels, whether it be his behavior, doesn't meet Rangers expectations. I got to know him real quickly and I'm real happy with his presence and what he brings to this team."
Vigneault stuck to his positive tone on the negotiations. "Everybody's talking and as long as people are talking, I'm being optimistic."
Zuccarello, who fractured his left hand blocking a shot Feb. 16 for Team Norway, won't play Wednesday night but he has been upgraded to "day to day," Vigneault said.
Wednesday night's game will be the fourth that Zuccarello, who has 15 goals and 43 points, has missed, but he is close to returning. "As soon as he's able to handle the pain taking the pass," Vigneault said. "You can see he can shoot the puck right now." He had a six-game point streak before leaving for Sochi. He could play Friday in Carolina or Sunday against Detroit at home.
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