Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh will miss his fourth straight game with an abdominal strain, though the defenseman said Tuesday that the injury is "progressing really well" and that he's hopeful to return Friday night when the Blueshirts host the Carolina Hurricanes.
"I was on the ice for the first time yesterday and it felt better today as opposed to the day before. It's good," McDonagh told reporters after the team's morning skate, which McDonagh took part in. "It's starting to feel strong on the ice and be able to do the things I need to do."
McDonagh admitted the injury had been lingering for an extended period of time. He tried to play through the discomfort, but the team's medical staff ultimately chose to keep him out of action to let it heal in an attempt to get back to as close to 100 percent as he could be.
Luckily for McDonagh, his team has been able to overcome his absence with three consecutive victories, easing the frustration a bit for No. 27.
"Just trying to be smart here with the time that we have at this point in the season," he said. "Not a lot of games here in a short time. The teams been playing really well, too, so it's been fun to watch them and see them playing well."
Of course no player enjoys missing time, and McDonagh is no different.
"It's never fun," he said of missing games. "It's never fun at any point in your career or any point in the season. You're trying to do the things you need to do so you can be healthy and go out and play the way you need to play and not have something worse happen because you're trying to play through something."
The injury, though, hampered McDonagh's world-class speed, and required him to change his approach to offset any discomfort he was feeling.
"At times it felt like you're not able to shoot as well and be as explosive," he admitted. "Skating, I always talk about, is a big strength of mine. Not having that not quite the same explosive step, first couple steps, you start thinking and compensating and trying to play around it and that's not going to help anything. In that aspect, it was time to do something about it."
While McDonagh said the goal was to be in the lineup Friday, coach Alain Vigneault chose not to put a target on anything, and chose instead to evaluate McDonagh following Thursday's practice.
"I'd have to wait until he has a real - I don't consider a morning skate a real practice," Vigneault said. "We'll have to put him through a normal practice and see how he responds, so I'll have a better idea for you after Thursday's practice."