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Rangers' Zuccarello 'good as new' after injury

NHL.com @NHL

New York Rangers forward Mats Zuccarello said he's healthy nearly five months after he was struck in the side of his head by a slap shot during Game 5 of the Eastern Conference First Round against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Zuccarello participated in a scrimmage Tuesday with about 20 teammates at the Madison Square Garden Training Center in Greenburgh, N.Y., and told BlueshirtsUnited.com he's been skating the past few weeks in New York.

"I'm as good as new, as the doctors say," Zuccarello said. "My head feels fine and ready to go."

Zuccarello, 28, had 15 goals, 49 points and a plus-17 rating in 78 games last season. In parts of five NHL seasons, all with the Rangers, Zuccarello has 45 goals and 142 points in 222 games.

Rangers coach Alain Vigneault told NHL.com last month that Zuccarello was cleared to skate and take contact.

"I haven't skated for that long," Zuccarello said. "I've been working out hard, but it took me time to get going before I could do everything and feel in shape. I feel like I'm on my way there and I still got some weeks before the season starts. Hopefully, I'll be ready to go."

Zuccarello's injury sidelined him for the remainder of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, though he practiced during the Rangers' run to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final. He revealed after the playoffs that he sustained a brain contusion and a hairline fracture in his skull and also lost the ability to speak and some feeling in his arm. He has since seen a speech therapist and has one more follow-up scheduled with a doctor.

"I couldn't do whatever I wanted to right away," Zuccarello said. "I had to wait a little bit. I haven't been skating for that long, but I mean other than that I feel good. All that's going to come as we go on the ice more and more here."

Zuccarello said he hopes he can play in the Rangers' first preseason game, Sept. 21 against the New Jersey Devils at Madison Square Garden.

"That's my goal," he said. "Hopefully, I'm ready to go right away. Like I said, I feel bad today, but it's going to take me time to just get back on the ice and the timing and stuff, but it's the same for everyone.

"It's hard to say before I go on the ice and play a game if it's going to affect me. I don't think about it. All I think about is getting back in shape and getting back to being [game] ready. Nothing more than that."

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