For the third straight day Henrik Lundqvist was on the ice Saturday, working his way back from an undisclosed injury that had previously forced him to miss three practices and Thursday's game in Philadelphia. Lundqvist reported that he "feels better", though he remains unable to dress for this evening's game with the Red Wings. That doesn't mean he does not have a goal for a return date in mind, however.
"I'm not going to hide it, I definitely want to play Monday," Lundqvist told reporters following Saturday's morning skate. "It's our home opener, and I want to be in there and play in front of our fans. That's my goal, but at the same time you've got to be smart about it. It's a long season, but we'll see how I react to (Saturday's practice)."
Saturday's workout was the most intense Lundqvist has experienced since he returned to the ice a few days ago. Thursday morning he worked with goaltending coach Benoit Allaire on drills for about 20 minutes before taking shots from teammate another ten minutes. Then on Friday, an off day for the team, he worked with several teammates at the Wells Fargo Center before the team flight to Detroit.
On Saturday the pace and speed of the workout picked up, and was more of what a usual practice is like for Lundqvist. Nonetheless he is not yet ready to play, and will watch Cam Talbot make his second straight start in goal on Saturday.
"Every day it's improving," Lundqvist said of his injury, which was originally suffered in the second game of the season against Los Angeles. "That's what you hope for to try and get back to 100 percent. I'm not going to think too much, just do my work here, get my treatments, see where it goes."
After nine straight games on the road to start the 2013-14 season, the Rangers return to the newly-transformed Madison Square Garden for their home opener on Monday night. The Rangers have dropped six of their first eight games on this trip heading into this evening's contest with the Red Wings, who are winless in their last three (0-2-1).
"We all feel frustration right now, and not being able to be out there to help out just adds to it," explained Lundqvist. "But you have to stay positive. It's definitely a test for us, a tough start, but let's get a great game here tonight and then head back home, turn a page and play some home games."
Jason Missiaen will dress and serve as Talbot's back-up goaltender in Detroit on Saturday.