Ryan McDonagh rejoined his Rangers teammates on the ice for Wednesday's optional practice, which was attended by every available player except the injured Arron Asham, who remains sidelined with a sore back. McDonagh, who missed his first game of the season last night, had not skated since being wiped out into the glass behind the Rangers net in the second period of Saturday's 3-0 loss up in Montreal.
Sporting a 12-stitch cut under his nose from the hit, McDonagh was upbeat and ready to return to the lineup when he met with reporters following Wednesday's practice.
"I felt great on the ice, had a lot of energy, and just excited to be back with the guys and help them win some games again," said McDonagh. "As long as the rest of this day I feel good, heading into tomorrow I should be good to go."
McDonagh said he felt no ill will towards Montreal's Max Pacioretty for the hit which injured him on Saturday, saying "It's just part of the game...it's just the game of hockey". However he did admit to being "shaken up" on the play, and was thankful that the team trainers and doctors did not allow him to return to the match after he was stitched up.
The 23 year-old defenseman also agreed with the team's medical personnel that he needed to be off ice for a couple of days to get back on track.
"My body just didn't quite have the energy level, so this really was just more of a precautionary thing," explained McDonagh, who has two goals and five points this season. "I just needed an extra day to get back to normal. I felt good today, better than I was expecting for not being on the ice a couple of days. So that's encouraging."
Two other key injured Rangers took part in practice as well on Wednesday. Rick Nash skated with his teammates for a second straight day, and said afterwards that he is feeling better and would see how he feels tomorrow about being able to play against the Tampa Bay Lightning or not. And Del Zotto also confirmed he was feeling better, though he, too, would not commit to being able to play Thursday.
"I will see how I feel tomorrow," explained Del Zotto, who has missed two straight games after hurting his hip on a check last Thursday in Ottawa. "I was optimistic about playing yesterday, but unfortunately wasn't ready. Today was better than yesterday, and yesterday was better than the day before so we're on the right track here."
As the Rangers get healthier the decision was made to reassign forward Brandon Mashinter to the Connecticut Whale. He had played in four straight games without scoring a point or recording any penalty minutes. Last night in limited ice time Mashinter was a -2 in the Rangers 4-3 loss to the Jets.
So what do you make of Ryan McDonagh's quick recovery, and the fact that he bears no grudge against Max Pacioretty? And what do you think of the chance that the Rangers could pretty much be back to full strength tomorrow night? Share your thoughts below.