Nashville Predators Desperately Need Injured Ryan McDonagh Back

Ryan McDonagh #27 of the Nashville Predators skates up ice during the first period of their NHL game against the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena on March 6, 2023 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Derek Cain/Getty Images)
Ryan McDonagh #27 of the Nashville Predators skates up ice during the first period of their NHL game against the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena on March 6, 2023 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Derek Cain/Getty Images) /
facebooktwitterreddit

Ryan McDonagh often gets overlooked in the Nashville Predators lineup because many of the things he does aren’t flashy, but when you watch him closely you see just how vital he is.

The Predators are currently in the midst of a rocky stretch of hockey where they can’t kill penalties and they’re getting burnt with counter attacks, all while Juuse Saros hasn’t been able to bail them out.

McDonagh has missed the last four games due to a lower body injury but has been considered day-to-day. During that stretch, the Predators have gone 1-3-0 and given up 19 goals.

Just ask Tampa Bay Lightning fans how much they still miss McDonagh’s presence for the former back-to-back Stanley Cup champions.


McDonagh Getting Close to Returning for Struggling Nashville Predators

The penalty kill has fallen to last place in the NHL, and we all know that McDonagh is crucial to this unit. He blocks shots, he gets into the right position to limit high danger shots and is just the veteran leader you need in those situations.

McDonagh pairing with Alexandre Carrier has turned in particularly strong results for the Predators on limiting scoring chances for the opposition. As of Sunday, the McDonagh/Carrier pairing was fourth best in the NHL among defensive pairings in Expected Goals Against.

McDonagh has been getting closer and closer to returning. He’s been skating with the team in practice, and the last two games there was a chance leading up to puck drop that he would suit up.

Perhaps the coaches are taking the cautious approach with the veteran considering it’s still so early in the season and you don’t want to make the injury worse.

With that said, I can’t stress enough how painfully obvious it has been without McDonagh’s presence. He’s a goaltender’s best friend, and Saros or Kevin Lankinen could use this veteran’s net protection.

Related Story. Panic Strikes as Juuse Saros isn't Bailing Out Predators. light

McDonagh is third on the Predators in blocks with 25, while his most common defensive linemate Carrier leads the team with 45 blocks. The Predators will get an instant boost when these two are paired back together, and with Roman Josi and Dante Fabbro continuing to be the top defensive pairing.

Up next the Nashville Predators continue their long stretch of home games by hosting the Anaheim Ducks. Another up and coming roster with speed and offensive playmakers who can burn you on counter attack.

McDonagh will likely be a gametime decision once again. Once he’s back in the starting lineup, we will likely see Marc Del Gaizo taken out, Tyson Barrie moved back down to the bottom pairing with Jeremy Lauzon.

Del Gaizo is waivers exempt and has played very well in his first stint of NHL action and it’s nice to know the Predators have some depth on defense when these injuries occur. However, the way this defense corps is constructed, Del Gaizo is probably the odd man out when everyone is fully healthy.