GREENBURGH, N.Y. — After missing four games with a concussion, Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh is all but certain to return against the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday.
“I’m good enough to go, as long as the coaching staff feels they want me,” McDonagh said Tuesday after a full practice with contact. “I’m not even thinking about it anymore.” Coach Alain Vigneault said afterward: “From everything I’ve seen so far, he looks fine.”
At his locker after practice, McDonagh, who was KO’d by Wayne Simmonds’ gloved punch in Philadelphia on Feb. 6, said he was “inspired” by the team’s play in his absence.
“I wish, obviously, nothing ever happened and I’d still be able to play and I wasn’t injured. The guys definitely really stood up well. It was inspiring to watch,” he said. “I can’t help but be inspired, not just by [Dylan] McIlrath and Glasser [Tanner Glass], but everybody just playing really well and hard for one another.”
In the rematch against the Flyers on Sunday, McIlrath dropped the gloves with Simmonds 39 seconds into the first period. Glass fought Ryan White 20 seconds later. The Rangers won, 3-1.
Counting the 3-2 shootout win over the Flyers on Feb. 6, when McDonagh missed the last 2 1⁄2 periods and overtime, the Rangers went 4-0-1 without him.
A reflective McDonagh, whom Vigneault called the team’s best two-way defenseman, added: “You get injured, you don’t travel with the team, you become just a fan — obviously one with a little more insider info. Watching those guys, you can’t help but be inspired by our play and how far it’s come along here in a few weeks to a month. For me, I’m just really excited to get back and make a big impact even more for this group, for the stretch run this season.”
Vigneault hedged a little, saying he did not want to make anything official until an optional morning skate at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday, but outside forces may also have a hand in Wednesday’s lineup.
Defenseman Dan Boyle missed practice with the flu, and depending on his recovery, he could be scratched. Marc Staal and his wife are expecting their second child Wednesday, so his availability is in question. If both players are unavailable, Vigneault said, the team would summon a defenseman from the AHL Hartford Wolf Pack.
Notes & quotes: Henrik Lundqvist will start against the Blackhawks, his seventh in eight games since the All-Star break. Vigneault did not name his goaltender choice for the game in Toronto on Thursday . . . The Rangers had a special guest at practice Tuesday. Mila Zavodni, who currently lives in White Plains, celebrated her 100th birthday on Friday. Born in Czechoslovakia, she’s been following the Rangers since 1927. Derek Stepan and Mats Zuccarello chatted with her after practice. “It puts everything in perspective,” Stepan said.