Leo Komarov ejected for elbow to head of Ryan McDonagh
Rangers defenceman sat 4 games recently with concussion
The Toronto Maple Leafs, who entered Thursday's game against the New York Rangers with five forwards on injured reserve, probably will have at least a sixth in civvies for Saturday night's visit by Philadelphia.
Leo Komarov was ejected and assessed a five-minute match penalty for intent to injure with 62 seconds left in the first period for his elbow to the head of Rangers defenceman Ryan McDonagh, who was playing just his second game since returning from a four-game absence with a concussion.
Komarov, who plays with an edge, has never been suspended in his two-plus seasons in the NHL.
McDonagh surprisingly stayed on the bench for the final minute of the period rather than go to the dressing room to be assessed, but wasn't on the bench to begin the second in an eventual 4-2 New York win.
<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NYR?src=hash">#NYR</a> Ryan McDonagh will not return tonight for precautionary reasons.—@NYRangers
At the start of the season, the NHL placed independent concussion spotters in all 30 arenas that would determine players who might require further evaluation for a concussion after an obvious hit to the head or display of apparent symptoms.
McDonagh finished plus-1 in 24 minutes six seconds of ice time in Wednesday's 5-3 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks.
What are the odds Leo Komarov pulls the classic Dennis Wideman "I was blurry" card?—@Dewyism
"There's no doubt he's our best two-way defenceman," Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault told reporters earlier this week. "He's such a good skater."
The 26-year-old native of St. Paul, Minn., hadn't played since he absorbed a sucker-punch from Philadelphia's Wayne Simmonds, precipitated by a McDonagh cross check to the head, in a Feb. 6 game.
Rounding into form
McDonagh, who entered Thursday's contest averaging 22:46 of ice time this season, reportedly was rounding into form prior to the Simmonds punch. He has seven goals and 26 points in 54 games after a slow start to the season.
Through Wednesday, McDonagh was tied with J.T. Miller for third on the New York roster with a plus-14 rating and second to Dan Girardi (plus-15) among Rangers defencemen.
"Just before he got hurt," said Vigneault of McDonagh, "I would say the last three weeks to a month there, we were seeing the Ryan McDonagh we were talking about before, saying Norris [Trophy] candidate [as the league's top defenceman]. That's how good he was playing at both ends of the rink.
Simmonds wasn't further disciplined by the league, infuriating Vigneault.
"What I didn't expect was the reaction from the league," he said recently. "I wonder if that's [Pittsburgh captain Sidney] Crosby, what happens? What are the consequences?"
The 29-year-old Komarov, a favourite of first-year Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock for his hard-working approach, was Toronto's representative at last month's all-star game in Nashville. He is the Maple Leafs' top point-getter this season with 35 entering Thursday on a team-leading 18 goals and 17 assists.
Komarov's absence would further dampen a Toronto team that's minus forwards James van Riemsdyk, Tyler Bozak, Joffrey Lupul, Shawn Matthias and Josh Leivo.