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With Michal Rozsival on the shelf tonight, Ryan McDonagh makes his Rangers debut on defense

Jan 7, 2011, 5:30 PM EDT

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Injuries are always part of the game in the NHL, as is disappointing performance. Both of those things are conspiring tonight to give former Montreal first round pick Ryan McDonagh the opportunity to play in his first NHL game tonight in Dallas.

McDonagh is cracking the lineup thanks to an injury to Michal Rozsival. McDonagh was called up last week when Michael Del Zotto was sent packing to the AHL to get his game straightened up. For the Rangers, McDonagh is the sixth rookie to suit up this season in New York. McDonagh joins Michael Sauer, Derek Stepan, Mats Zuccarello, Evgeny Grachev, and Dale Weise as first-time Rangers on the ice this season.

Even in spite of all that turnover, the Rangers have played strong this year and sit in seventh place in the Eastern Conference and are just seven points behind Pittsburgh for first place in the division and conference. McDonagh was obtained from the Montreal Canadiens in the dubious Scott Gomez trade which sent Gomez and his huge contract to Montreal for McDonagh and Pavel Valentenko. Valentenko nearly made the Rangers roster out of training camp but lost out to Michael Sauer for the job.

More than a few eyes in Montreal will be keeping an eye on McDonagh to see how he plays. With the questionable play of some defensemen in Montreal as well as injuries coming to starters like Josh Gorges, many folks will want to see what the Habs gave up in order to get the streaky Gomez.

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