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Anyone who reads my columns knows that I’m Ryan McDonagh’s biggest fan. What he’s been able to do this season is a testament to his drive, focus and desire to be a world-class hockey player.
That being said, the St. Paul, Minnesota, native has struggled to find his footing in Round 1.
Luckily for him, though, Claude Giroux is also struggling.
There was always concern as to how long it would take McDonagh to get back on track after missing the final five games of the regular season with a shoulder injury. Although his absence wasn’t prolonged, rejoining a team in a playoff atmosphere can be difficult.
To say he is playing bad hockey is unfair, but he’s clearly not at his best. He’s sporting a minus-three rating and facing Giroux’s line almost exclusively. Giroux has only registered a couple of assists and has been rendered scoreless, but it’s not necessarily because of McDonagh. His partner Dan Girardi has had his back through the first three contests, but Giroux and his linemates are too dynamic for the duo to survive short-handed.
In the wake of Giroux’s comments following the Flyers’ 4-1 loss on Tuesday night—claiming they were “going to tie up this series,” per Adam Kimelman of NHL.com—you have to think Giroux is going to come out flying on Friday night.
I wouldn’t expect a Mark Messier-like performance from the 26-year-old—who is barely a fraction of the player "Moose" was—but McDonagh is going to have to turn his game around immediately...like on Friday.