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McDonagh says finishing season 'would be ideal' for Lightning

Hoping for shot at Cup with Tampa Bay second in Atlantic at pause

by Corey Long / Independent Correspondent

Ryan McDonagh is in favor of finishing the NHL season whether it means playing the final three weeks of regular-season games or jumping right into the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"With our team and where we're at … and our season, the way it was going, if we were to play or finish any part of our season, we would take that scenario," the Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman said Wednesday. "… That would be ideal for us."

Tampa Bay was in second place in the Atlantic Division when the season was paused March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus. The Lightning (43-21-6) are eight points behind the Boston Bruins and 11 points ahead of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

"I haven't looked at a calendar and coordinated what days we would've been playing or not," McDonagh said. "We're getting to the first week of April. So we'd be gearing up for the playoffs, which is the most exciting time of the year for a player.

"And you just wish you were able to keep playing but know that this is bigger than hockey. What we're doing as a community and as a nation is the right thing, keeping everyone safe and healthy. And then we can get back to everybody working, sports playing again, people going back to their jobs and getting back in the community and all that stuff."

Video: TBL@NYI: McDonagh nets goal from long range in 3rd

McDonagh said he expects the players to have an abbreviated training camp if the season resumes. The NHL recently announced that they have asked players to remain in self-quarantine until at least April 15 and social distancing restrictions in the United States are in place through April 30.

"If this extends another month maybe it's not as long, but maybe if it goes into two months or three months, you are looking at maybe needing an extra three or five days (of training camp before games)," McDonagh said. "But I think players are understanding this is a unique situation if we do resume and try to finish out any part of the season, we're probably not going to get a full-length training camp like we would coming off a normal offseason.

"So in that aspect, we'll just have to prepare a little bit differently. And I think if there is a scenario that if we finish some sort of the season, guys will just be excited to play that out and we'll have to jam a little bit extra work in here or there into whatever kind of training camp or practice days that we get."

McDonagh, who has 12 points (one goal, 11 assists) in 50 games this season, played in the Lightning's two most recent games on March 8 and 10 after missing the previous 14 with a lower-body injury. He was able to skate for a few days after the season was paused because Lightning facilities were temporarily open for players continuing to rehab from injuries.

He said he is continuing to work out and stay in shape with bike rides and a home workout routine which includes walks with his young children, Falan and Murphy.

"Our training staff and trainers have tried to provide as much stuff for guys to have at home," McDonagh said, "They delivered bikes and [resistance] bands and dumbbells just to have some tools on hand if you didn't already. Like most people you try and get a little bit of a routine going and with a 3-year-old, we kind of have this morning routine that after breakfast we go on a little walk and she has her little push scooter and I kind of start my day there, get the body moving a little bit."

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