Ryan McDonagh must have been very relieved Wedensday night's marathon overtime game mercifully came to an end.
The second year defenseman led all players with 53:17 minutes played. He played 60 shifts (second to teammate Marc Staal, who had 63 shifts and 49:34 of ice time), blocked a game-high eight shots (including one Alex Ovechkin shot with his hand), and took a Matt Hendricks hit that would have knocked out most men.
It was a career defining game for young McDonagh, who has really matured into a dependable NHL workhorse. While Dan Girardi and Marc Staal get the headlines, and the flashier Michael Del Zotto gets the prime power play minutes, McDonagh may be the best of the Rangers big four. The former first round pick (by Montreal in 2007 - the Habs traded him to NYR for Scott Gomez!) has quickly become a fan favorite in Manhattan.
The real problem for the Rangers is they lack depth. Coach John Tortorella somehow survived the triple OT classic - the 20th longest game in Stanley Cup playoff history - with basically four rearguards. Anton Stralman played 28 minutes total. Compare that to McDonagh who now averages 28:39 minutes played per game this post season. And inexplicably Stu Bickel - who has played in all 10 Rangers game thus far - played just 3:24 all game, and never saw the ice after late in the 2nd period!
The Rangers have a real shot at winning the Stanley Cup in 2012. They have great goaltending in Henrik Lundqvist, a collection of great young players and an impressive approach to the game. I have quickly become a fan of the Rangers.
But I have to wonder if they have the depth to go all the way. Can Tortorella continue to rely on just 3 lines and 4 dmen, especially given how those dmen are noted for their physical play and shot blocking. The Rangers can ill afford an injury especially on the blue line. If they do - and it is almost inevitable if they are fortunate enough to reach the Stanley Cup final - the Rangers could run into problems.
Here are some Pucks on the 'Net:
• Seriously, could Tortorella not have at least used Bickel as a forward for a shift or two in the 2nd or 3rd OT? The freshest man on either bench, Bickel could have been instructed to skate as hard as he can and hit every opposition player he can or 45 seconds.
• Matt Hendricks sure impressed with his unrelenting physical game. The guy is a human wrecking ball. Could not help but notice he ran out of gas long before the final goal.
• The game itself was a bit of a dud - bad ice, tired players and the humid arena did not make for the most artistic of games for fans to watch. But there is just something so special about long overtime games. It was probably the most fun game I've watched this playoff.