WASHINGTON -- New York Rangers defenseman Marc Staal returned to practice Friday morning in advance of Game 5 against the Washington Capitals at Verizon Center (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN, RDS2) but is not playing for the second straight game.
Staal also missed Game 4 on Wednesday after returning to action in Game 3 following an absence of 29 games. Staal didn't want to go into details about what is holding him back and instead said he simply isn't fit to play right now because of his right eye injury, which occurred March 5 in a game against the Philadelphia Flyers.
"I'll wake up [Saturday] and go at it again," Staal said. "With this thing, the way I've been dealing with it is I wake up in the morning and take it from there. I couldn't speculate one way or the other."
Staal was a surprise scratch for Game 4 because not only did he play in Game 3, he said afterward he felt good and the game went as expected for someone who missed nine weeks of action. He also participated in the morning skate prior to Game 4, an indicator he would play.
However, Staal said it was during that morning skate that he knew he wasn't fit to put himself back into a game.
"On the ice it didn't go particularly well, and as the day went on I just couldn't see myself getting into a game situation," Staal said.
He would not speculate if he will be able to return for Game 6 on Sunday or beyond.
"It's tough," Staal said. "You get excited to get in that one [Game 3], and have to sit and watch the next [Game 4]. It's certainly not easy."
The Rangers have not shown any line combinations in practice the past two days, and coach John Tortorella rarely stays with his line combinations during games. However, here is a guess at what they could be at the start, but note that Derek Dorsett likely won't play much, if any, at center, but Tortorella used Brian Boyle on a line with Mats Zuccarello and Derick Brassard in the third period of Game 4:
Carl Hagelin - Derek Stepan - Ryan Callahan
Ryane Clowe - Brad Richards - Rick Nash
Mats Zuccarello - Derick Brassard - Brian Boyle
Taylor Pyatt - Derek Dorsett - Arron Asham
Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi
John Moore - Anton Stralman
Michael Del Zotto - Steve Eminger
Scratched: Matt Gilroy, Roman Hamrlik, Kris Newbury, Chris Kreider, Micheal Haley
Injured: Marc Staal (eye), Darroll Powe (undisclosed)