Ryan McDonagh doesn't think the elbow he received from Matt Cooke was on purpose.
"I don't think he's trying to put his team down (with a) five minute penalty," McDonagh told reporters during a broadcast on MSG Network, prior to the start of the Rangers game with the Florida Panthers. "It's coming down to the end of the year here. Ten games left for about everybody. You're trying to get good momentum going into the playoffs or keep your playoff spot and that was a close game at the time and momentum could go the other way. I think he's trying to make a big hit and he just caught me wrong. I don't think it was his intent.
"The suspension … it is what it is. The league is really pushing to get these hits out of the game. If that's a statement, it's a pretty big statement, for sure."
On Monday, the NHL announced Cooke had been suspended for the rest of the regular season (10 games) and the first round of the playoffs, for his elbow to the head of McDonagh.
The incident occurred less than five minutes into the third period of Sunday's Rangers-Penguins game, when Cooke went high and landed an elbow on McDonagh's jaw. McDonagh had his back turned to the Penguins forward, and was in the process of shooting the puck into the offensive zone. Cooke was given a five-minute major and a game misconduct.
"It was a dangerous hit. It's something that the league's been trying to crack down on and try to stay on top of. I think it was one of those prime examples where guys are in a vulnerable position and a guy lifts up his elbow and takes it right to the head," Rangers defenceman Michael Sauer told MSG. "I think they have to be pretty stern on it, especially if it's something they're going to stand by, and they did."
McDonagh, who was in the lineup for Tuesday's game, said that his recovery has gone well.
"I feel good. My legs didn't have as much energy, but that kind of comes with it, not skating yesterday," McDonagh told MSG. This pain in my jaw is slowly going away, day-by-day here."