The Rangers confirmed Monday morning that team captain Ryan McDonagh suffered a concussion when sucker punched by Philadelphia's Wayne Simmonds during a first-period altercation in what eventually would be a dramatic 3-2 victory for New York.
Head coach Alain Vigneault did not state a timetable for how long McDonagh may be out of the lineup, though he confirmed that his All Star defenseman would not play this evening when the Rangers host the New Jersey Devils at The Garden.
"The way Ryan was playing, he was finding his game, and the best part of his game is when he is skating and beating the fore check," explained Vigneault. "When he's feeling good about his game and himself he's a tremendous offensive defenseman and defensively you can match him up against all of the top players--and he loves that challenge."
McDonagh averages a team-high 22:44 worth of ice time per game and he is tied for second on the team with a +13 plus/minus rating. He also leads all Rangers defensemen with seven goals, while his 26 points are two behind Keith Yandle for ther team lead among defensemen.
"When something like this happens to a teammate--especially your captain and someone as valauble to the team as he is--it's a big blow," said rookie defenseman Dylan McIlrath, who will replace McDonagh in Monday's lineup.
The Rangers played the final 55 minutes of Saturday's game without McDonagh, as Yandle played a season-high 27:33. Dan Boyle, Dan Girardi, and Marc Staal all played more than 24 minutes apiece to make up for the loss of McDonagh, the team's top minutes cruncher the last five seasons.
Vigneault said that he would "mix and match" his defensmen tonight to cover for the loss of McDonagh. The team will dress four right-handed shooting d-men and two lefties. During the morning skate Boyle moved to the left side while pairing with McIlrath.
"It's not a big deal, I think I've done everything so far in my career so moving to the left won't affect me," stated Boyle. "Communication, especially early on, will be important playing with Dylan."
Vigneault also stated that he and Rangers General Manager Jeff Gorton will meet after the game to discuss whether or not the club will recall another defenseman from the minor leagues while McDonagh is sidelined. Earlier this season rookie Brady Skjei and veteran Chris Summers had brief stints with the Rangers, and veteran Raphael Diaz is playing with the Hartford Wolf Pack, as well.