New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh practiced Tuesday and indicated he's ready to return to the lineup Wednesday against the Chicago Blackhawks (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TVA Sports).
McDonagh has missed the past four games with a concussion sustained Feb. 6 against the Philadelphia Flyers. Dylan McIlrath entered the lineup in his place and New York went 3-0-1 to open up a four-point lead over the New York Islanders for second place in the Metropolitan Division.
"I feel pretty good out there," McDonagh told BlueshirtsUnited.com. "Really not even thinking about [the injury] anymore, and that's the biggest thing for me. Just focusing on the way I need to play and having fun out there."
Coach Alain Vigneault said he'd wait until the Rangers' optional morning skate Wednesday to formally decide on McDonagh's status.
"Everything that I've seen so far, he looks fine," Vigneault said. "So we'll see how he responds. [Tuesday] was his first contact day. If he's alright [Wednesday] come optional [Wednesday] morning, there's a good chance I'll put him in the lineup [Wednesday] night."
McDonagh has seven goals and 26 points in 52 games this season, including nine points in 13 games prior to the injury.
"There's no doubt he's our best two-way defenseman," Vigneault said. "[He's] such a good skater and just before he got hurt, I would say in the last three weeks to a month there, we were seeing the Ryan McDonagh that we were talking about before, talking about a Norris [Trophy] candidate. That's how good he was playing at both ends of the rink."
Even if McDonagh plays against the Blackhawks, Vigneault said the Rangers may need to recall a defenseman from Hartford of the American Hockey League. Dan Boyle missed practice Tuesday with the flu and his status is uncertain; Marc Staal's wife is scheduled to have labor induced and he could be unavailable.