Rangers' Ryan McDonagh Injured in Brutal Hit: What Does This Mean for the Team?

Scott AbusoCorrespondent IJanuary 22, 2012

TORONTO - JANUARY 14: Nazem Kadri #43 of the Toronto Maple Leafs gets hit by Ryan McDonagh #27 of the New York Rangers during NHL action at the Air Canada Centre January 14, 2012 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images)
Abelimages/Getty Images

Following a vicious check into the boards by Andrew Ference late in Saturday's matchup between the Bruins and the Rangers, Ryan McDonagh barely made it off the ice on his own power, with his trainer trailing close by.

It's, unfortunately, pretty clear the McDonagh was injured on the play, though the severity is up for speculation. 

What does this mean for the first-place New York Rangers?

Well, it's difficult to say, actually.

This isn't the first injury that's rocked the Rangers' blue line this season.  Steve Eminger suffered a separated shoulder in a game against Phoenix, and Mike Sauer was dealt a concussion in a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Ranger also lost their (arguably) best defenseman in Marc Staal from the start of the 2011-2012 season until his return at the Winter Classic. 

The Rangers were able to recover from all of these setbacks by flaunting their remarkable depth in the roster, calling up Stu Bickel and other younger players who have been successful filling the holes in the lineup.

The fact remains, however, that Ryan McDonagh was one of the key players who helped the Rangers ailing blue line this season.  Particularly in Staal's absence, he and Dan Girardi led what could have been a group of mistake-making rookies into one of the better defensive corps of the NHL

 

 

 

Boasting a 15 plus-minus to date, McDonagh wasn't statistically the "best" defender on the Rangers, but he knew his job and he did it rather well. 

 

Seeing another D-man go down is certainly tough to handle for the team that's currently leading the Eastern Conference, but it should not spell disaster.

With Sauer seemingly improving and Eminger not too far behind him, along with the presence of Girardi, Del Zotto, Bickel and Staal, the Rangers need not worry about their defense.

It's a terrible thing to see a player who had a big role in the Rangers defensive success for the majority of the current season sidelined with an injury, but the game will go on.

With a little luck, and hopefully, some extra effort from their healthy defenders, the Rangers should continue on their path to success, and hopefully, McDonagh will return soon enough to reap the rewards that come with it.