That massive gust of wind coming from the MSG Training Center on Monday was the collective sigh of relief from the Rangers as defenseman Ryan McDonagh took to the ice to practice with his teammates, just two days after absorbing a crushing---and illegal---hit delivered by Boston's Brad Ference, one that left McDonagh down on the ice for several minutes, and which led to Ference being suspended by the NHL for three games yesterday.
However, not all of the injury news at the Rangers practice facility was positive on Monday. Head coach John Tortorella explained that Michael Sauer, who had returned to the ice last week for several days of skating, is now being held out of workouts by the team's medical staff.
"(Head trainer Jim Ramsay) has backed him off," Tortorella said of Sauer, who suffered a concussion on December 5th against the Maple Leafs. "He hasn't really felt that great after a few days on the ice. I am just waiting for a yes or a no with (Sauer), and right now it's a no."
As for McDonagh, the second-year pro said he had trouble catching his breath after being run into the backboards 1:50 into overtime Saturday. He also said his head and neck had a whiplash-type of effect, but that his head, neck, and shoulder---which all jammed hard into the boards at high speed---felt fine today.
"It was scary because I hadn't had the wind knocked out of me like that in a long time," explained McDonagh. "I stayed down on the ice just trying to catch my breath for like a minute, and then I started feeling for my limbs, making sure everything was alright. The off day was good yesterday, helped me recover, and I feel fine today. I will definitely play tomorrow (vs. Winnipeg)."
McDonagh was in the midst of a monster performance on Saturday before being hurt. He had logged 32:04 worth of ice-time and blocked a game-high seven shots to that point, while pairing with Dan Girardi to help shut down a tough Bruins team.
"Mac has put himself into a situation where he has played to that spot as a shutdown defenseman, he is not filling in, he has played to that spot," Tortorella said of McDonagh. "He has a right to be sore, but he's on the ice (today). Sometimes guys want to take a day off, but he doesn't even ask. He's right there. And I think that's the kind of mental toughness he has shown since we've gotten to know him."
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