GREENBURGH, N.Y. — With his jaw and neck still sore from an elbow thrown by Toronto’s Leo Komarov, Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh won’t dress for the game against the Devils tonight in Newark but hopes to play on the trip to St. Louis and Dallas.
In his first time on ice since tests confirmed that he didn’t suffer a second concussion in 12 days, the defenseman, in full gear, joined a group of teammates at the end of practice Monday and reported feeling better.
“I was pretty upset about the whole timing of everything, and now having to start over again and get ramped up again. But I am grateful it wasn’t another concussion,” he said. “I’m feeling a lot closer now than I was coming off the last one at this point.”
The concussion, triggered by a gloved punch from Philadelphia’s Wayne Simmonds on Feb. 6, sidelined McDonagh for four games. He will miss two this time but presumably not four. After his latest blow to the head Thursday in Toronto, McDonagh sat out Sunday’s 1-0 overtime win over the Red Wings.
“It’s an unfortunate hit, a play you want out of this league, like many guys have said,” McDonagh said. Komarov, who was suspended for three games, messaged him to apologize on Friday.
“I don’t want to see guys suspended, you don’t like to see that, and you wish those hits never were a part of the game,” McDonagh said. “I can’t change the way I approach my game with and without the puck . . . You hope those things don’t happen but maybe [I] do a little better job of protecting myself, too . . . Usually I’m moving, and that helps you kind of protect yourself with your body, but I was kind of caught standing still.”
Notes & quotes: The Rangers (34-19-6, 74 points) are nine points ahead of the Devils (29-24-7, 65) before their fourth and final regular-season meeting. The Rangers are 1-1-1 against New Jersey, with all three games decided by a goal. Henrik Lundqvist is expected to start in goal against Cory Schneider. “At this time of year, we’re all desperate for points,” Derick Brassard said. “They’re outside looking in at the playoffs; at the end of the day, it’s the intensity that’s going to make the difference.”