Unheralded McDonagh Could Have Major Impact

Tom Awad at ESPN Insider takes a look at four players whose impact on their team’s potential postseason success far outweighs their reputation, including Ryan McDonagh…

“McDonagh had the seventh-highest Quality of Competition among all NHL players and the highest on the Rangers; Girardi was 12th in the league. McDonagh also started only 43 percent of his shifts in the offensive zone, Girardi 44 percent. Despite this, their Corsi — which measures the net total of shots directed toward your opponent’s net against those directed towards your own — was positive: plus-57 for McDonagh, plus-32 for Girardi. This is even more impressive when you consider that 24 of their games were against opponents from the Atlantic Division, the strongest in the NHL this season.

McDonagh’s emergence as an elite NHL defenseman is one of the main reasons the Rangers went from eighth in the conference to first. He’ll now have to show that he can help the team get past the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 1997.”

…absolutely mind-boggling that this is just McD’s first full season in the NHL. I hate to say it, even if Staal didn’t get hurt, McD should have supplanted him on the top pair this year. He’s been that good and will be counted on to shut down Ottawa’s top skilled players in the first round.

…i’m not even joking, the more I think about it the Gomez trade for Higgins, McD and Valentenko has to be the biggest fleece job in major sports history.

ESPN also thinks Marian Gaborik is on the playoff hot seat, while Carl Hagelin could be an unlikely hero.

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