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Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh close to returning

Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh passes the puck against

Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh passes the puck against the Winnipeg Jets in the first period at Madison Square Garden on Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

TAMPA, Fla. - The Ryan McDonagh Watch is still on.

The Rangers captain may play Friday.

Or Saturday.

Monday's possible, too.

This much is certain, according to coach Alain Vigneault: McDonagh will not return from the separated left shoulder that has kept him out since Nov. 1 until he is 100 percent ready.

"We've got to be 100 percent sure of this here," Vigneault said Wednesday. "So when you tell me he's 100 percent, we're going to put him in. It doesn't have to be Friday, it doesn't have to be Saturday. It's when you tell me he's 100 percent. I haven't had the official 'he's good to go' yet. He's going to practice on Thursday and if I don't get the go ahead Thursday, I would say it's probably going to be Saturday or maybe Monday."

The Rangers are planning a Thanksgiving Day practice before heading to Philadelphia for Friday's matinee against the Flyers.

'Stemp' sits again

Right wing Lee Stempniak was a healthy scratch for the second straight game as Vigneault stayed with rookies Anthony Duclair and Jesper Fast. Before getting scratched, Stempniak missed a game with lower back tightness.

"I talked to Stemp about it," Vigneault said. "Like our team he had been a little bit inconsistent in some games. He was no different. What happened was he got hurt. Usually you don't lose your spot because of an injury, but we had been waiting for such a long time, we got two good performances in a row and for now he's the odd man out and I'm sure when he's going to get a chance to play he'll be fine.

"He's a good player. He's very versatile. He'll play five on five. He can play the power play, he can kill penalties."

"Just right now this group seems to have pretty good chemistry."

New York Sports