After a full practice at Nationwide Arena today, coach Alain Vigneault lavished praise on defenseman Ryan McDonagh, his growing offensive game, and Brad Richards' suggestion that Mac be put on the point:
"We were just talking about him before practice about how Montreal (who sent Mcdonagh to New York in the Scott Gomez trade) must be just shaking their heads," Vigneault said. "He’s a thoroughbred. I didn’t know him at all other than the couple games we (the Canucks) played; having been with him now for 70 games, not only is he dependable and playing against the top lines, because of his skating and skill set, he’s got offensive potential, and he’s only going to get better…He’s a real force out there. We’re lucky to have him."
He also discussed how McDonagh, who has 12 goals and is a stud shutdown defenseman, didn't need much prodding from him or the coaching staff:
"It has to do with being at a point in his career where probably he learned the defensive part of the game. He had some untapped offensive capabilities and to tell you the truth, one time I was talking with Brad about the power play, and who, in his experience, who we might use at the point with him, and he s the one that said we should try Mac. That wasn’t a mistake. So maybe Richie might be a coach one day."
Vigneault also said he didn't expect any changes on defense against the Blue Jackets on Friday, but at one point, Raphael Diaz was paired with Marc Staal. "I’d like to be able to put him in the lineup, but as everybody knows, these games are so important, and they guys are playing pretty good in front of him; in the next couple games, we’ll see what happens."