The New York Rangers will likely have defenseman Ryan McDonagh back in the lineup Thursday against the Tampa Bay Lightning, but Rick Nash and Michael Del Zotto are not sure bets to return from their injuries.
All three participated in an optional practice Wednesday in Greenburgh, N.Y., after missing Tuesday's 4-3 loss to the Winnipeg Jets. Forward Arron Asham, who has missed three games with back spasms, was not on the ice.
McDonagh took a hit from Montreal Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty on Saturday night that left him bloodied and sent him to the locker room for the remainder of the game. But he told reporters after Wednesday's practice that he has improved quicker than he expected.
Nash has been dealing with an unspecified injury -- it has been speculated that it's a concussion -- and the Rangers are winless in the four games he has missed. Del Zotto has been out since suffering a lower-body injury against the Ottawa Senators on Thursday. Each player told reporters he will need to see how he feeling Thursday before knowing if he'll be back to face the Lightning.
The Rangers cleared space on their roster for the return of at least one of their players, reassigning forward Brandon Mashinter to the Connecticut Whale of the American Hockey League.