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Rangers' McDonagh, Kreider skate, but not ready

by Tal Pinchevsky

NEW YORK -- New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh and forward Chris Kreider participated in the team's optional skate Tuesday but neither will play against the Carolina Hurricanes at Madison Square Garden.

McDonagh remains day-to-day and did not shoot the puck while on the ice, indicating that his injured left shoulder is not yet ready for game action. Kreider participated in some hard skating drills but did not wear a glove over his injured left hand, which was wrapped in a cast.

Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said there was a 50-percent chance that McDonagh would return to action before the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Rangers clinched a postseason berth after the New Jersey Devils lost 1-0 to the Calgary Flames on Monday.

Calgary's assist in punching New York's trip to the postseason made for an awkward moment during an otherwise pleasant family meal at the home of Rangers defenseman Marc Staal.

Hosting his brothers, Carolina forwards Eric and Jordan Staal, Marc Staal couldn't help but check his phone for the score of the game.

"I kind of forgot about it, and then I checked my phone and saw it and started laughing," Marc Staal said. "My brothers asked me what I was laughing about and I said, 'We clinched the playoffs.' They were a little jealous. It was good."

For the other Staal brothers it was a sudden reminder that the Hurricanes likely will miss the playoffs for the fifth straight season. The Hurricanes enter Tuesday eight points behind the Columbus Blue Jackets for the Eastern Conference's second wild-card spot with four games to play. A loss of any kind against the Rangers would eliminate them from playoff contention.

"I wouldn't say we were jumping for joy for him but we were happy for him nonetheless," Eric Staal said of his brother's upcoming date with the postseason. "He gets another opportunity in the playoffs, which is what every player wants when they come into a season. It's great for him."

Carolina's best players recently have been its youngest, most notably the line of Jeff Skinner, Elias Lindholm and Riley Nash. Skinner leads the Hurricanes with 31 goals and has found chemistry with his young linemates. Particularly the rookie Lindholm, who scored two goals, including the game-winner, in a 4-1 win against the first-place Pittsburgh Penguins on April 1.

"It's been fun playing with Lindy and Nash," Skinner said. "We've had some good chemistry. We've started to pick it up. I think it's a result of all three guys playing well. We just sort of mesh together really well. Those two guys have been fun to play with these last few weeks. I've been enjoying it."

Goaltender Cam Ward will get the start for Carolina, his first since March 31. Henrik Lundqvist did not participate in New York's optional skate but likely will start for New York. Rookie Jesper Fast was called up from the American Hockey League on Monday and will see his first NHL action since Oct. 28, skating on a line with Carl Hagelin and Brad Richards.

Here are the projected lineups for the Hurricanes and Rangers:


Andrei Loktionov - Eric Staal - Alexander Semin

Elias Lindholm - Jeff Skinner - Riley Nash

Nathan Gerbe - Jordan Staal - Patrick Dwyer

Drayson Bowman - Manny Malhotra - Radek Dvorak

Justin Faulk - Ron Hainsey

John-Michael Liles - Brett Bellemore

Ryan Murphy - Jay Harrison

Cam Ward

Anton Khudobin

Scratched: Justin Peters, Mike Komisarek

Injured: Andrej Sekera (lower body), Jiri Tlusty (upper body)


Rick Nash - Derek Stepan - Martin St. Louis

Carl Hagelin - Brad Richards - Jesper Fast

Benoit Pouliot - Derick Brassard - Mats Zuccarello

Dominic Moore - Brian Boyle - Derek Dorsett

Marc Staal - Anton Stralman

John Moore - Dan Girardi

Raphael Diaz - Kevin Klein

Henrik Lundqvist

Cam Talbot

Scratched: Justin Falk, Ryan Haggerty, Daniel Carcillo

Injured: Chris Kreider (hand), Ryan McDonagh (shoulder)

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