PITTSBURGH -- New York Rangers forward Rick Nash thinks he's starting to turn a corner after skating for the first time in a month Thursday.
Nash, who had last skated in New Jersey on Feb. 3, tested his bone bruise in at Consol Energy Center when he took the ice for about a half hour. Most of that time was spent at one end, while goalies Henrik Lundqvist and Antti Raanta, forward Jesper Fast and defenseman Dylan McIlrath held a small skating session on the opposite half.
"It was a good day today, to get back out there and get a stride going, but obviously I didn't do anything too crazy, or stops and starts or anything," Nash said. "So it's going to be a bit of a process to get my legs back, get my wind back, get my timing back. The big thing is now, hopefully there are no setbacks."
Nash, who last played against the Carolina Hurricanes on Jan. 22, primarily focused on light skating and firing wrist shots into an open net, but didn't attempt any vigorous work. He performed a few sharp laps around the right circle and drove off his injured left leg to fire a powerful snap shot off the end boards, but that was the extent of his intensity.
"It felt great," Nash said. "Not being able to do something you love is tough and especially not being around the team too much, it's hard. But today was a great day … I thought it was going to be a day-to-day thing. After the last time skating, you just knew it was more of a long-term injury."
After thinking he would return soon after the 2016 Honda NHL All-Star Game, Nash was frustrated when he realized his injury was more severe than originally thought. Now that he's starting to take steps toward returning, Nash feels satisfied with his progress.
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"We just thought it was just a day-to-day thing and it would take a few days to get better," he said, "but it seemed like it was one of those injuries that had to get worse before it got better, and that was the case. We took our time and everyone's been good with it. And I'm finally starting to come back to start to turn a corner now."
Since his injury, the Rangers have 11 wins in 16 games. Their success has made it a bit easier for Nash in some respects, since he doesn't feel the pressure to return more quickly than he would if New York was struggling, but it has produced its own set of difficulties.
"It's been fun to watch," Nash said. "The team has been playing unbelievably and I think sometimes it's hard to watch when you're losing [out on playing], but you try to find the positives in your own game. You watch a lot of game tapes, a lot of video, trying to figure out what you can do better when you get back. And it's been fun to watch. The team's been playing great."
With the acquisition of center Eric Staal, Nash is unsure where he will fit in New York's lineup upon his return, but said he is excited to be added back to the group, even if that requires him playing a different role. In his 13th NHL season, he has scored 12 goals and 33 points in 45 games.
Nash also said he hopes his time missed ultimately means he'll be fresher for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
"When it takes a few weeks and you haven't turned the corner yet, you look for all positives," he said. "That's definitely one that I've thought about."
Remaining positive has proven difficult, but Nash is attempting to avoid frustration.
"It's tough. I've been doing it for so many years and that's the thing you enjoy the most, is hanging around the room and being on the ice for those wins," Nash said. "I'm trying to be as positive as I can and I got to spend a lot of time with my son, wake up with him every morning for the last five weeks, so that's been the silver lining."