Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh missed the last five games of the season with a shoulder injury. Fully healthy or not, he’d better be ready to battle tonight, because the visitors from Philadelphia have put a big bulls eye on him.
“Yeah, he’s a little banged up,” Flyers forward Scott Hartnell said, per CSN Philly. “You definitely want to be physical on him. … You want to be clean and hard on him and make sure he is working hard for every inch of ice out there with or without the puck.”
McDonagh had a career-high 43 points this season while logging almost 25 minutes a game.
“He’s got great feet,” said Philadelphia coach Craig Berube. “That’s the No. 1 thing about him.”
The last time the two teams met, on Mar. 26, McDonagh did this:
Not surprisingly, the Flyers don’t want to make things easy for him.
“The 30 minutes that he plays have to be hard minutes,” Berube said. “Not only being hit, but you have to make him work. Grind him out. Grind down there. Make him work. Make him stay long shifts out there.”
“Defensively, if we don’t get pucks deep [on him], we will lose this series,” said Hartnell.
“You want to put pucks in his corner,” added forward Wayne Simmonds. “You want to punish him physically.
Of course, while there’s something to be said for getting pucks deep and avoiding costly turnovers at the blue line, if McDonagh can use his “great feet” to neutralize the forecheck, one quick pass and all of a sudden it’s the Rangers on the attack. So there’s a risk to the Flyers’ strategy.
“They’re going to try to get the puck to my side, it’s just part of the game,” said McDonagh. “If it’s a focus for them, I don’t know. I’m not going to worry about it.”