Ryan McDonagh has eight points in five playoff games since game five of the Pittsburgh series. His defensive play has come back as the playoffs have gone along but when the post season started. His skating was fine but he lacked strength in his shoulder to push attackers off the puck. He only had one assist through the first series and four game against Pittsburgh.
Go back to 2009 when the Rangers were just barely relevant. Barely making the playoffs while in the middle of building a younger, faster roster. Rebuilding on the fly if you will. Unlike the way the Pittsbugh Penguins and Chicago Blackhawks were bottom dwellers, Glen Sather was trying to unload some dead weight. By dead weight I mean older players such as Scott Gomez. Glen Sather wanted to drop his eight million dollar contract like a bad habit. He had his worst season since 2002-2003 with only fifty-eight points. So he did what any good General Manager would do. Call the Canadiens General Manager Bob Gainey. After some negotiating the two came to an agreement on a trade on July 1, 2009. Several days before free agency.
That trade sent Forwards Scott Gomez, Tom Pyatt, and defenseman Mike Busto to Montreal for Forward Chris Higgins and Defenseman Doug Janik, Pavel Valentenko, and of course Ryan McDonagh. Scott Gomez had five years and thirty-three million left on his contract with a cap hit of $7.37 million. At that time, his contract was the sixth highest in the NHL. With Scotty Gomez’s declining play and high cap hit, this was surely a win for the Rangers and at the time Scott Gomez was a good grab for Montreal. He played 196 games for the Canadiens but struggled mightily in the three seasons he played there.
Ryan McDonagh entered the NHL mid-way through the 10/11 season. Playing in Forty games with the Rangers and never looked back. His defensive game and skating were NHL calibre from the get go. Then coach of the Rangers John Tortarella used the rookie McDonagh as a second pairing defenseman behind his top pairing of Marc Staal and Dan Girardi. Fast forward to today and Ryan McDonagh is a Norris Trophy calibre two-way defenseman. We all have come to know his skating, speed, and defensive game but since the coaching change over to Alain Vineault. McDonagh has a developing offensive game. He scored fourteen goals and twenty-nine assists for a career high forty-three points in seventy-seven games played this past regular season.
Ryan McDonagh had a slow start to the playoffs after an apparent upper body injury ended his regular season. The entire team seemed dejected after dropping two straight games at Madison Square Garden. The Rangers held a closed-door session in the home teams locker room just after that brutal game four loss. Mr. Ryan McDonagh has since been himself again. He’s even got six points against the team that drafted, then traded him. In game one alone, Ryan McDonagh had a goal and three assists in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Is it Montreal bringing out the beast in Ryan McDonagh – or are New York Rangers fans seeing a new staple at Madison Square Gardens?