During this morning’s meeting with the press, head coach John Hynes confirms that defenseman Ryan McDonagh will be back in the lineup for tonight’s game against the Buffalo Sabres. Not having played since March 12th, McDonagh returns after missing four games. Hynes also confirms that after missing the team’s last game against the New York Rangers, captain Roman Josi will remain out of the lineup with an upper-body injury.
McDonagh’s steady presence on the back end will be a welcomed return for the Predators, especially with Josi out of the lineup. McDonagh does not have the same point-scoring ability that Josi has, but McDonagh’s ability to block shots and limit mistakes makes him a valuable defender nonetheless. Even off the ice, a recent winner of two Stanley Cup rings with the Tampa Bay Lightning, McDonagh will be a solid veteran piece to put around Luke Evangelista and Egor Afanasyev as they look to fully graduate to the NHL long-term.
Cooling down a bit of late, the Predators are still well within the playoff race in the Western Conference. They currently sit five points behind the last wild card team, Winnipeg Jets, and have three games in hand against their central division rival. As the season comes to an end, they still have one remaining game against the Jets, and will also play another wild card team twice, the Seattle Kraken.