COLUMBUS, OH -- Forward Chris Kreider returned to practice Thursday in Columbus after missing the previous two games with an upper-body injury and will play Friday night against the Blue Jackets.
"Some stuff was just kind of persisting" and "not really getting a lot better," Kreider told reporters after practice. "Something we had been monitoring. I talked to the training staff and the doctors, management, and they did what they thought was best for me as an individual."
The problem, according to Kreider, was related to the neck spasms that forced him to miss four games earlier in the season. He said the symptoms he was dealing with "ran parallel" with post-concussion symptoms, but after a second opinion "they determined it wasn't that."
Kreider, who has three goals and eight assists in 11 games this season, praised the Rangers for putting his safety first.
"I can only say good things about this organization in terms of how they handle that kind of stuff," Kreider said. "They really do care about the individual. They were looking out for me when they sent me to get a second opinion. Luckily, I got the best news possible and we should move on from there."
Moving on includes going with the "simpler approach," according to Kreider, which includes warming up his neck more and also giving it time to rest. He said he did more than he probably should have when dealing with the original spasms.
Josh Jooris practiced today with a normal jersey after spending the last few days in a non-contact jersey as he continues to rehab his injured shoulder.
"Mentally [the injury] felt like a long time [ago], but I think it was three weeks yesterday," Jooris said. "I think I'm right on the right timeline. It's feeling pretty good."
Jooris injured the shoulder on Oct. 26 against the Boston Bruins, and has appeared in just five games with the Rangers this season. He missed most of training camp with a groin injury, adding to his frustration, though he was optimistic the worst was behind him."
"Hopefully I got [the injuries] out of the way early," said Jooris, who has one goal this season. "It's tough. You never want to be out, especially when you work hard all summer to prevent this kind of stuff, but it's just part of the game. We'll go from there."
Jooris said he's been able to skate and work his lower-body throughout the injury. Head coach Alain Vigneault said Jooris would need some more practices before being available to play.
"I would say he'll neeed at least one more, maybe a couple more practices there," Vigneault said. "He has been working hard. He can take contact now so I would say he's very close to coming back."
Forwards Derek Stepan and Kevin Hayes were both given maintenance days Thursday, though Vigneault said both would be in the lineup Friday against Columbus. Vigneault also said Pavel Buchnevich (back spasms) would likely skate but is doubtful to return to the lineup. He's missed the last two games.
Henrik Lundqvist will get the start in goal.
The Rangers returned Cristoval Nieves to Hartford (AHL).