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Rangers won't rush Zuccarello into preseason games

by NHL.com Staff / NHL.com

New York Rangers forward Mats Zuccarello, who sustained a fractured skull and brain contusion during the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, has said he feels ready to play, but coach Alain Vigneault will not rush him back.

Vigneault said Saturday that Zuccarello "won't play the first couple of games" and wants to make sure he has "a good four, five, six practices under his belt" before playing a few preseason games.

The Rangers open their six-game preseason schedule Monday against the New Jersey Devils at Madison Square Garden and play Tuesday on the road against the Philadelphia Flyers.

According to the New York Daily News, Vigneault opened his press conference by talking about Zuccarello.

"How about Mats Zuccarello back on the ice?" he said. "Good to see him out there, then running the stretch at the end; we all know what he had to go through, the injury he had, and for him to be back, back with his teammates, no restrictions, it's a great day for the New York Rangers."

Zuccarello also lost the ability to speak for several days after being injured in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference First Round against the Pittsburgh Penguins. He was hit in the head with a slap shot, spent four days in a hospital and rehabbed all summer.

Zuccarello, 28, had 15 goals and 49 points in 78 regular-season games. Vigneault said he should be ready for the regular-season opener against the Chicago Blackhawks on Oct. 7 at United Center.

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