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Next step for injured Ryan McDonagh: Clearance for contact

New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh handles the

New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh handles the puck behind the net during the second period against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Madison Square Garden on Friday, Oct 30, 2015. Credit: Steven Ryan

Could Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh return before next Sunday? It’s possible.

The Blueshirts will host the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks on Wednesday and will visit Toronto on Thursday. The Red Wings will visit Madison Square Garden next Sunday.

“He [was] supposed to talk to our doctors [Sunday night], and if all goes well, they’ll tell him what the next steps are,” coach Alain Vigneault said after McDonagh skated for the third straight day yesterday. “The only thing he’s not cleared to do at this time is contact. So he’s pushing hard on the ice and he’s also pushing hard in the gym. He’s been allowed to start lifting again. The next step is to get cleared for contact and see how he responds to that.”

The Blueshirts are scheduled to practice Tuesday.

McDonagh, who missed his fourth straight game, suffered a concussion when hit by Wayne Simmonds’ sucker punch Feb. 6 in Philadelphia. After the optional morning skate with a few teammates yesterday, he remained on the ice for 20 minutes doing conditioning drills.

Lundqvist passes Richter

With his 667th appearance Sunday night, Henrik Lundqvist passed Mike Richter for most appearances by a goaltender in team history. Entering Sunday night, he was 100 saves away from passing Richter for most regular-season saves; Lundqvist had 17,280. He already holds franchise records for wins (366), shutouts (58), minutes (39,332), playoff wins (54), most overall saves, regular season and playoffs (20,319), and 30-win seasons (nine).

Forward move?

The Rangers have 25 games left, but only six before the Feb. 29 trade deadline. With Rick Nash (bone bruise, left leg) out week to week, it is believed the Rangers would like to add a top-nine forward, but they have less than $1 million in available cap space. So some salaries, and possibly prospects and draft picks, would have to be dealt.


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