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McDonagh skips practice with flu, but will play Classic

by Dave Lozo
PHILADELPHIA -- Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh gave fans a scare during what was supposed to be a fun outdoor practice at Citizens Bank Park on Sunday.

About 10 minutes after the Rangers took the ice, McDonagh left with an equipment manager and returned to the locker room. But it was later reported that he was dealing with flu-like symptoms.

Rangers coach John Tortorella said after practice that McDonagh would be available Monday to face the Philadelphia Flyers in the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic (3 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, RDS).

The Rangers have been dealing with injuries to their blueliners throughout the first half of the season. Marc Staal has missed the entire season with a concussion, Michael Sauer has missed almost a month with a concussion, and Steve Eminger is out two months after separating his shoulder.

The loss of McDonagh, who has made the transition seamlessly into Staal's spot on the top defense pairing with Dan Girardi, might have been too much to bear. Tortorella said the reason why the 22-year-old has performed so well this season is his short memory.

"I always say about Mac, he makes mistakes during the game," Tortorella said. "Everybody does. He makes some doozies, too. But when he does, it doesn't affect him the next shift. It doesn't take him two periods, two games, to get over it. He responds right away, and that's a great trait in that position, because the mistakes are so much more magnified playing defense. He's handled himself very well."

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