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McDonagh to make NHL debut tonight

by Staff Writer / New York Rangers
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By Jim Cerny,

Rookie defenseman Ryan McDonagh received the official word that he will make his NHL debut tonight in Dallas during the team’s morning meeting at the American Airlines Center. His reaction to the news was one of pure excitement, followed by the level-headed response that marks his mature makeup.

“It’s exciting, for sure,” McDonagh said after the Rangers’ morning skate today. “It’s a lot of hard work that goes into getting ready for this. And I am excited to help this team keep winning, keep rolling. I just have to stick to doing what got my here.”

Former first-round draft pick Ryan McDonagh will join his friend and college teammate Derek Stepan in the Rangers' lineup tonight when the rookie defenseman makes his NHL debut at Dallas.
McDonagh, 21, will take the place of veteran defenseman Michal Rozsival tonight. Rozsival has been bothered by pain in his ribcage area -- and was forced out of Wednesday’s 2-1 win over Carolina in the second period after aggravating the injury.

Rangers head coach John Tortorella reported this morning that, despite receiving treatment yesterday, Rozsival actually was in more pain today. Originally scheduled to take part in the morning skate, Rozsival instead received more treatment and will be scratched from the Rangers’ lineup this evening.

Tortorella added that McDonagh will be paired on the blueline with Matt Gilroy, who has excelled of late with three goals in his last four games. Rookie Michael Sauer will take Rozsival’s spot alongside Steve Eminger.

“Ryan is an outstanding skater,” said Tortorella. “We’ll just see how the game goes because who knows what’s going to happen? We’re trying to win a game, and we certainly don’t want to hinder his progress and put him in spots he doesn’t feel comfortable. We’ll see how our comfort level is as the game moves on.”

McDonagh was playing roughly 25 minutes a night in his first pro season with the AHL’s Connecticut Whale before being promoted to the Rangers this past Monday. He will become the fifth Rangers player to make his NHL debut already this season when he plays tonight, joining Derek Stepan, Mats Zuccarello, Dale Weise, and Evgeny Grachev.

“The motto on this team is to play hard, block shots, be physical, and that is right up my alley as far as my strengths,” said McDonagh. “I just have to stick to those things that got me here and I’ll be fine.”

Prospal, Callahan both making progress

Although the news on Rozsival’s rib injury was not good this morning, Tortorella did have more positive injury-related news regarding forwards Vinny Prospal and Ryan Callahan.

Both Prospal and Callahan will resume skating on Sunday as they try and work their way back from injuries. Prospal had stopped skating due to swelling in his surgically-repaired knee last week; and Callahan has not skated since breaking his hand in Pittsburgh on Dec. 15.

“Vinny got some good news the other day that (the knee) is healing and (the doctors) were really happy about what they were seeing,” said Tortorella. “He had some swelling in there that was a setback, but now they were happy with where he’s at. He’ll get back on the ice with Cally on Sunday, so that’s good news.”

There is still no timetable set for Prospal’s return to the lineup, while Callahan recently stated that he believed he was still three-to-five weeks away from playing in a game.
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