- Matt Ehalt, ESPN New York contributor
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GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- The injury bug just won't leave the Rangers' defensemen alone.
This time, it's 23-year-old Ryan McDonagh, who had to leave Saturday's game after taking a vicious hit. McDonagh did not practice Monday, making it seem unlikely he'll be back Tuesday against Winnipeg. Rangers coach John Tortorella said that he was "not sure" about McDonagh's status for Tuesday night.
"Mac's obviously a huge part of our D-core and he's a special player," Rangers defenseman Marc Staal said. "Guys need to step up if he doesn't play."
Losing McDonagh, a top-four defenseman, is a blow for the Rangers. In his second season as a full-time starter, he had not previously missed a game. He posted a plus-16 rating in his rookie season in 2010-11, and followed that up with a team-best plus-25 rating last season. He's even this year.
The team hasn't officially ruled him out of Tuesday's game, but there's speculation it could be a concussion. On Saturday against Montreal, McDonagh got crushed in the second period while retrieving the puck behind the Rangers' net; Max Pacioretty knocked McDonagh from behind into the glass. McDonagh didn't return after the hit, playing a season-low 13 minutes in the 3-0 loss. Overall, McDonagh has two goals and three assists.
After Saturday's game, Tortorella voiced his displeasure with the hit, asking reporters how high Pacioretty jumped before dishing out the blow. Pacioretty avoided discipline from the league, which surprised Staal. Tortorella said only that it wasn't his call.
"I think (Pacioretty) doesn't need to launch himself into (McDonagh's) back when he's turned like that," Staal said. "You'd like to see something done, but it is what it is."
After players suffer big hits like the one McDonagh suffered Saturday, sometimes that moment can be a rallying point for a team, possibly leading to another player dropping the gloves. The Rangers did not fight after the hit, but Tortorella says he didn't have a problem with that. The Rangers did play Saturday without enforcer Arron Asham.
"Our team was fine," Tortorella said. "You have to remember, we are trying to win a hockey game. I have full faith in the toughness of our team and how we are going to handle those type of situations."
61dPierre LeBrun and Joe McDonald