Ryan McDonagh: the stabilizing element

TAMPA | When it comes to the Lightning's defensive squad, Victor Hedman is the first name that comes to mind.

Ryan McDonagh: the stabilizing element

TAMPA | When it comes to the Lightning's defensive squad, Victor Hedman is the first name that comes to mind. And for good reason. Season after season, the great Swede is in talks for the Norris Trophy, a prize he won in 2018.

• Read also: NHL: Matthews, McDavid and Shesterkin in the running for the Hart Trophy

In his shadow is Ryan McDonagh. Although less in the limelight, the 32-year-old fullback is an equally important cog in the Florida club's success.

"It's a stabilizer. When things start to go wrong, he's the one who comes to right the boat," Jon Cooper said a few days ago.

The Lightning head coach is never short of compliments when it comes to talking about his players. He once again demonstrated this by describing the American's impact on his team's success.

"He's definitely one of the 3-4 guys who could have won the Conn-Smythe last year. Of course Vasy [Andrei Vasilevskiy] deserved it, but next on the list was definitely Ryan,” Cooper praised.

"He's a competitor, a guy who shows up on big occasions. He stands out in all areas of the game and elevates his game in important moments,” he continued.

In series, everything goes faster

In response to his pilot's compliments, McDonagh preferred to keep it simple.

“I try to play inside the structure. I want to be reliable that way. I want guys to know what to expect from me. A defenseman takes a lot of pride in being tough against and keeping the puck out of the net,” McDonagh explained.

It must be said that the former Canadian first-round pick (12th overall) in 2007 has experience behind the tie. No one since joining the NHL in 2010-2011 has played in more playoff games than him (168).

"more spontaneously"

Playing for the New York Rangers, he reached the Stanley Cup Final once and played in two other conference finals. Since arriving in Tampa in February 2018, the Floridians have won two Stanley Cups in addition to reaching the four aces another time.

“In the playoffs, the level of speed increases. As a defender, anticipating and reading the game must happen more spontaneously. At all times, you need to know where the opponent is on the ice and where your teammates are. A single game can make the difference in the game. There are no short games in the playoffs. »

A thought for Domingo

The best story of the playoffs since the start of this first round is certainly the unexpected presence of Louis Domingue in front of the Penguins net.

The 30-year-old Maskoutain has been around since his professional hockey debut in 2012-2013. Among his many saves, he settled into the Lightning organization for two years.

"I remember Louis was an energetic guy. It was quite a number in the locker room, McDonagh said. He was very competitive on the ice. If you scored against him in training, he was not happy. I have always liked this competitive quality. It's nice to see him get an opportunity with Pittsburgh and take it. »