Will Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh play Monday night against the Devils? That remained unclear Sunday.
A team spokesman declined to provide an update on the condition of the top-pair defenseman, who was knocked to the ice when he was punched in the jaw by Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds midway through the first period of Saturday’s 3-2 shootout win in Philadelphia. McDonagh did not return.
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The team had said McDonagh was held out for precautionary reasons and was being examined and receiving treatment for an unspecified injury. It is believed, however, that McDonagh went through the league’s concussion protocol.McDonagh leaves game after punch by Simmonds
“It certainly [stinks] that he had to leave the game,” J.T. Miller said Saturday, “but we’re just going to have to move on and figure out what the deal is [Sunday]. But it’s not really my spot to comment.” Added coach Alain Vigneault: “We’ll know more [Sunday].’’
As it turns out, nothing was revealed Sunday. The team’s morning skate is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Monday at the Garden, with Vigneault’s briefing to follow.
It would be a huge blow if McDonagh, who has played every game this season, is out for a significant length of time. In his sixth season, McDonagh led the team in average ice time (23:06) before Saturday, was second in blocked shots, has seven goals and 26 points, and was playing his best hockey of the season in the past month.
Simmonds, who was assessed a match penalty and game misconduct, avoided any further discipline and played against the Capitals on Sunday in the Flyers’ 3-2 loss.
The Rangers (29-18-5, 63 points) are carrying a seventh defenseman, Dylan McIlrath, who has played 21 games and could play Monday night. A defenseman from the Wolf Pack, such as veteran Raphael Diaz, who signed as a free agent last summer, or Brady Skjei, who has three goals and 16 assists in 46 games in his first full AHL season, could be summoned.
The Rangers, who are 5-2 in the last seven games, already are missing Rick Nash, who did not travel to Philadelphia and has not practiced with the team since suffering a bone bruise in his left leg on Jan. 24 against Carolina. Vigneault said Friday that the power forward was to be evaluated over the weekend.
Nash (12-21-33) is expected to miss his sixth consecutive game Monday night.
The Devils, who beat the Rangers, 3-2, in Newark last week, are four points behind the second-place Blueshirts in the Metropolitan Division. Cory Schneider, who was terrific in stopping 31 shots, will be back in goal. The fifth and last game of the regular-season series will be played Feb. 23 in Newark.