Ryan McDonagh not ready to make debut against Florida Panthers

Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Ryan McDonagh is not quite ready to make his debut as the Lightning prepare to take on the Florida Panthers on Tuesday night.

The NHL Trade Deadline was a fairly quiet time. That is until the news broke the Tampa Bay Lightning had acquired New York Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh and forward J.T. Miller in exchange for Lightning forward Vladislav Namestnikov, prospects Libor Hajek and Brett Howden, and a first-round pick and a conditional second-round pick in the 2018 NHL Draft. Suddenly, the Bolts were all anyone could talk about.

The Bolts Nation has already received a good luck at what newly-minted Lightning forward J.T. Miller has to offer, but fans are still (not so) patiently awaiting the debut of their piece de resistance of the trade deal, Ryan McDonagh. Why is this, you may ask? This is because McDonagh is currently suffering from an Upper-Body Injury sustained just before the All-Star break.

As one could easily imagine, Lightning fans are waiting on the edge of their seats to not only see how McDonagh will blend in with the Lightning blueline, but how McDonagh’s addition to the lineup will shake up the blueline and which players will be taking the ice alongside him.

Unfortunately, it seems as if the Bolts Nation is going to have to wait a little longer to get the answers they so desperately desire. According to Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times, Ryan McDonagh did, in fact, take the ice with the team for practice this morning; however, he was in a red, no-contact jersey.

While this is definitely a step in the right direction, it is pretty obvious McDonagh will not be ready to take the ice tomorrow night as the Lightning take on their in-state rivals, the Florida Panthers. Smith does go on to say there is a possibility McDonagh could be ready to go on Thursday night when the Lightning takes on his former team, the New York Rangers.

As much as Lightning fans would like to see McDonagh on the ice a little sooner, this may be a very good thing for both McDonagh and the team. There is an old saying which truly applies here, “better safe than sorry.”

If there is even the slightest suspicion he may need another couple of days to be back to 100 percent, the Lightning need to take the time. Also, what better test for a newly-acquired player than to see them go head-to-head with their former team?

The Lightning has a pretty tough schedule ahead of them and it would definitely be a bonus for the Bolts to get a little extra help on the blueline. This is an area the Lightning has been struggling with lately and some fresh blood may be exactly what the Bolts need to get back on track.

The Bolts will be spending the next two-and-a-half weeks at home as they do battle with their next seven opponents. People sometimes underestimate the rejuvenation power of sleeping in your own bed. In addition to this, it eliminates the time spent in travel and gives the team much more time to practice.

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The Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers have a very rich history between them. It is never a dull time when the Panthers come to town, so even without the addition of Ryan McDonagh to the lineup, tomorrow night should prove to be a truly interesting and exciting night.

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