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Staal practices, but isn't ready to return yet

by Dan Rosen

WASHINGTON -- The New York Rangers will open the Stanley Cup Playoffs on Thursday against the Washington Capitals without their four injured players.

Defenseman Marc Staal (eye) and forwards Brian Boyle (knee), Ryane Clowe (undisclosed) and Derek Dorsett (clavicle) all will be watching Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals on Thursday at Verizon Center (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN).

Staal, Boyle and Dorsett skated Thursday morning. Clowe did not, though he did travel to Washington with the team.

Staal, who has been out since March 5 when he was struck in the right eye by a deflected shot, said he had another good day Thursday. He said he's getting closer but still doesn't feel ready to play.

"As soon as I'm not second-guessing myself or hesitating and doing things I normally do become automatic is when I can jump into a playoff-type game," Staal said. "You go out there in a playoff game and you're thinking too much, you're going to get yourself in trouble and the team."

Staal admitted if this were earlier in the regular season he may consider playing to test his vision.

"If it's, say, game 10 or something, maybe I'll jump out there for a few shifts and see how it goes, but right now the stakes are too high and the guys that have been in there have been doing a great job," Staal said. "I don't want to compromise that by going out there and not being able to compete at a high level."

Boyle, who missed the last six games of the regular season, skated with the team Thursday for the first time since his injury. He was evasive when asked about his recovery, but said he felt good Thursday.

"It felt good and that's all I really know," Boyle said. "I don't have any idea how it's supposed to work. I'm trying to feel as good as I can as fast as I can."

Staal said Boyle "was flying around out there" Thursday morning.

"Hopefully he keeps getting better and improving at the rate that he is," Staal added.

Dorsett is trying to work his way back from a broken clavicle, an injury he sustained March 7 while a member of the Columbus Blue Jackets. Clowe, who missed the final game of the regular season, has not skated since or spoken to the media.

Here is what the Rangers' lineup could look like for the start of Game 1:

Carl Hagelin - Derek Stepan - Ryan Callahan

Mats Zuccarello - Brad Richards - Rick Nash

Chris Kreider - Derick Brassard - Taylor Pyatt

Darroll Powe - Kris Newbury - Arron Asham

Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi

Michael Del Zotto - Anton Stralman

John Moore - Steve Eminger

Henrik Lundqvist

Martin Biron

Scratched: Matt Gilroy, Roman Hamrlik, Micheal Haley

Injured: Marc Staal (eye), Brian Boyle (knee), Ryane Clowe (undisclosed), Derek Dorsett (clavicle)


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