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MacDonald in for Flyers; Rangers focus on game

New York defenseman Ryan McDonagh misses fourth straight

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FLYERS (24-20-10) at RANGERS (31-18-6) 

TV: 7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN 

The Philadelphia Flyers will have a new-look lineup against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Sunday.

Defenseman Andrew MacDonald, recalled from Lehigh Valley of the American Hockey League on Saturday, replaces the injured Michael Del Zotto alongside Shayne Gostisbehere. Del Zotto is sidelined indefinitely with an upper-body injury, general manager Ron Hextall said after the Flyers lost 2-1 in overtime to the New Jersey Devils at Wells Fargo Center on Saturday. 

MacDonald had 14 assists during a nine-game point streak for the Phantoms before his call-up, and has five goals and 36 points in 41 games. 

"I feel much better about where my game's at now than I have at any point over the last two years," MacDonald told the Courier-Post. "It's nice to have that confidence and that feeling coming back up." 

The Flyers acquired MacDonald from the New York Islanders on March 4, 2014 and signed him to a six-year, $30 million contract the next month. He scored two goals and 12 points with a minus-5 rating in 58 games last season. 

"At times last year I felt as if I couldn't make the right play ever," MacDonald said. "It's just always in your head. I think now I'm just able to go out there and trust my instincts and get my feet moving when I get the puck and little things like that instead of kind of thinking too much about what you want to do with it." 

MacDonald, 29, has played one game for the Flyers this season, a 4-3 shootout loss to the Islanders on Dec. 8. 

"I was impressed with his play when he came up for one game with us," coach Dave Hakstol said. "I thought he did a great job and stepped in and played like a confident veteran and he added to our team that day, I'm confident he will come in and do the exact same thing. He's a good player." 

Flyers defenseman Evgeny Medvedev will play for Brandon Manning. Forwards Matt Read and Scott Laughton will replace Jordan Weal and Sam Gagner.  

The Flyers, who have lost four of their past five games, are five points out of the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference. They play the Rangers for the first time since forward Wayne Simmonds punched New York defenseman Ryan McDonagh in the face during a game in Philadelphia on Feb. 6. 

McDonagh will miss his fourth straight game with a concussion. 

"We're not OK with that because he hurt our leader and best defenseman," forward Derick Brassard told BlueshirtsUnited.com. "The thing is it's been [four] games and we can't even have him tonight. When you look back at it obviously it's frustrating because we wish [McDonagh] was in the lineup tonight for such a big game, but at the end of the day we have to focus on our play. We can't be focusing on Wayne Simmonds. If we have to be hard on him, we'll be hard on him." 

The Rangers' five-game home winning streak ended with a 5-4 overtime loss to the Los Angeles Kings on Friday, but they're 7-0-2 in their past nine games and 20-5-3 at the Garden. 

"I think the biggest thing is trying to get a win," defenseman Keith Yandle said. "We have to play a full 60 minutes, play hard for one another, and if we take care of what we need to do we'll be OK. There's nothing you can pinpoint. It's just got to be a game you are ready to play in and have fun with it." 

Here are the projected lineups: 

FLYERS 

Jakub Voracek - Claude Giroux - Wayne Simmonds 

Matt Read - Nick Cousins - Brayden Schenn  

Michael Raffl - Scott Laughton - R.J. Umberger  

Chris VandeVelde - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Ryan White  

Andrew MacDonald - Shayne Gostisbehere 

Nick Schultz - Mark Streit  

Evgeny Medvedev - Radko Gudas  

Steve Mason  

Michal Neuvirth  

Injured: Sean Couturier (lower body), Michael Del Zotto (upper body) 

Scratched: Jordan Weal, Sam Gagner, Brandon Manning 

RANGERS 

J.T. Miller - Derick Brassard - Jesper Fast   

Chris Kreider - Derek Stepan - Mats Zuccarello  
  
Oscar Lindberg - Kevin Hayes - Viktor Stalberg  
  
Tanner Glass - Dominic Moore - Daniel Paille   

Keith Yandle - Dan Girardi   

Marc Staal - Kevin Klein   

Dan Boyle - Dylan McIlrath   

Henrik Lundqvist  

Antti Raanta   

Injured: Rick Nash (bone bruise), Ryan McDonagh (concussion) 
  
Scratched: None 

Status report: McDonagh took part in an optional morning skate with Brassard, Girardi, Hayes and Raanta, one day after practicing wearing a red non-contact jersey. "He's pushing hard on the ice," coach Alain Vigneault told BlueshirtsUnited.com. "He's pushing hard in the gym. He's been allowed to start lifting again. So the next step is to get cleared for contact and then see how he responds to that." … Brassard and Girardi will play after each took maintenance days Saturday. "It's nothing serious," Brassard told NorthJersey.com. "I just needed one day to reset. I just want to be fresh." 

Who's hot: Gostisbehere has points in 11 straight games (three goals, 11 assists), a new Flyers record and NHL record for rookie defensemen. … Mason is 7-3-3 with a 2.13 goals-against average and .934 save percentage against the Rangers. … Stepan has six goals and 25 points in 28 games against the Flyers. … Hayes has two goals and three points in his past three games.

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