The Rangers held an optional practice Thursday morning at the MSG Training Center, but for injured forward Rick Nash there was no option whatsoever. Not only did Nash take part in the practice, wearing a non-contact jersey, but he skated hard on his own for quite some time before his teammates hit the ice, as well.
"Today was a bit harder than the last, so I want to see how (the bone bruise in his leg) reacts tomorrow and go from there," explained Nash. "It's all been positive since I started skating again. I am trying to go harder each day and see how the injury reacts. Today was definitely the hardest day so far."
Nash has been sidelined since suffering the injury to his leg in a game against the Carolina Hurricanes on January 22. Since then he has missed 20 consecutive games, though his return to the lineup is getting tantalziingly close.
"I'm very anxious," admitted Nash, who had 33 points in 45 games prior to suffering this injury. "I feel like professional athlets are creatures of routine and when you don't have that routine is kind of strange. So I am looking forward to getting back."
Meanwhile Nash's injured teammate Henrik Lundqvist also took part in the optional practice and declared himself ready to play this weekend when the Rangers face the Red Wings in Detroit on Saturday and/or when they host the Penguins at Madison Square Garden on Sunday.
Lundqvist, who said he's close to being 100 percent after missing the past three games due to neck spasms, practiced Thursday along with Nash, fellow goaltender Antti Raanta, defenseman Dan Boyle, and forwards Mats Zuccarello, Chris Kreider, Derek Stepan, Kevin Hayes, Oscar Lindberg and Viktor Stalberg.
The Rangers will hold a full-team practice Friday at noon and then head to Detroit for Saturday's matinee against the Red Wings.