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Monday, February 25, 2013
No news on Nash, McDonagh

By Matt Ehalt

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Rick Nash is eligible to come off the IR and make his return for the Rangers.

Only he wasn't anywhere to be found on Monday.

The forward did not practice Monday and it does not appear that he will be playing Tuesday against Winnipeg. Rangers coach John Tortorella said he's "not sure" about Nash's status as the Rangers try to snap a three-game losing streak.

Defenseman Ryan McDonagh also did not practice and all signs indicate he also won't be with the team Tuesday. McDonagh had to leave Saturday's game against Montreal after suffering a brutal hit in the second period, and Tortorella also said he's "not sure" about McDonagh.

On a positive note for the Rangers, defenseman Dan Girardi is good to go after X-rays came back negative on his foot/ankle, and Tortorella said forward Darroll Powe (concussion) is also good to go. Defenseman Michael Del Zotto, who didn't play Saturday with a lower-back issue, also practiced Monday.

Nash, the team's big offseason acquisition, has missed the last three games with an undisclosed injury that placed him on injured reserve retroactive to Feb. 17. His injury could be related to a hit he took on Feb. 12 from Boston's Milan Lucic, although he did play the following two games against the Islanders and the Capitals.

Although the Rangers haven't given any true update on Nash's status, it's clear that whatever is hampering Nash has become problematic. He didn't accompany the team on its recent trip to Canada and Tortorella said he didn't even look for Nash on Monday as he focused on the guys on the ice.

Nash is eligible to come off IR to play Tuesday, as rules regulate that he had to miss seven days, but it doesn't seem likely he'll be back. The Rangers are 0-2-1 without Nash and have scored just three goals in three games without him.

As the Rangers deal with losing their top playmaker, all signs indicate they will now have to prepare to play without one of their top defensemen in McDonagh. He's a top-four defender who is averaging 23:45 of ice time.

In Saturday's loss, Max Pacioretty squashed McDonagh into the glass in the second period, forcing McDonagh from the game. Tortorella was not pleased with the hit as he asked reporters afterward how high Pacioretty jumped before he smashed McDonagh into the glass. Pacioretty received a penalty for the hit but avoided discipline from the league.

While McDonagh was absent Monday, fellow top-four defensemen Girardi and Del Zotto practiced and should be ready to suit up Tuesday. Girardi had to undergo X-rays after blocking a shot Saturday and said that he never felt pain like he did after taking the puck off his foot. Del Zotto missed Saturday's game after being on the receiving end of a hard hit in Thursday's shootout loss to Ottawa.

"It was good (relief) and a good help mentally to know there's nothing going on there. Just go about my business now," Girardi said. "I'm a little sore but I felt pretty good out there and excited to get back out there."

Powe, who has missed the last three games, was placed on IR on Feb. 18 after a collision with Washington's Matt Hendricks resulted in a concussion. Powe believed that he blacked out for a bit after the hit, but said he is feeling pretty good now.

For Powe to play, the Rangers will have to make a roster move, and they demoted forward Christian Thomas to Connecticut (AHL) on Monday. Fellow forward Arron Asham also did not practice Monday.

"Just taking it day-by-day here," Powe said. "I got to skate today and it's a good thing. I'm happy about that."