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Lundqvist Nearing Return Following Practice

Girardi, Klein Practice With Blueshirts

by Matt Calamia @MattCalamia /

Henrik Lundqvist appears to be past the point of physically dealing with his strained hip. 

Now is the mental aspect.

Lundqvist returned to practice on Monday as he continues to rehab the injury that has sidelined him for just under two weeks.

"It was fun to be out there again. I felt pretty good," Lundqvist told reporters. "I think the toughest part for me is being patient and not trying to do too much."

Lundqvist, who injured his hip in a win over Florida on March 7, said he feels "100 percent," but now it's just working off the rust that comes with missing as much time as he has.

"We have a plan and I try to stick to that," said Lundqvist. "The last couple days have been really good on the ice. Now, it's about getting my speed back and my timing back. I can feel I've been away from the game a little bit, but a couple good days of practice to get back to it."

Lundqvist said he's at the point in his rehab that he must find the balance of pushing himself to a return while also not overdoing it.

"I think the key here is to focus really hard in practice on every detail of the game and try to go hard," he said. "I want to be out there for a couple of hours, but [Rangers goaltending coach] Benny [Alaire] kind of slows me down to be patient here. Every day you increase the amount and the pressure you put on your body."

The plan now, according to Lundqvist and coach Alain Vigneault, is for Lundqvist to keep skating over the next few days with the team's extras and make the trip to California Thursday, with a target return of Saturday in Los Angeles.

Defensemen Dan Girardi and Kevin Klein both practiced on Monday, though neither are expected to be in the lineup Tuesday at New Jersey, or Wednesday at Madison Square Garden against the Islanders.

Girardi has missed the last 10 games with an ankle injury, while Klein has been sidelined for 13 with back spasms.

It was the first time Klein has practiced with the team.

"It's nice to be out there with the guys and skate around," Klein said. "It's been a while. I've had five or six really good skates in a row, so I'm getting back into shape."

Vigneault said both blueliners have been medically cleared to return, but both have to get "up to speed" before seeing game action.

Vigneault said he's going with the same lineup as he did in Saturday's win over the Minnesota Wild. Ryan McDonagh did not practice Monday after being given a maintenance day, but Vigneault said he'll play against New Jersey.

Tuesday's projected lineup:

Chris Kreider - Derek Stepan - Mats Zuccarello
J.T. Miller - Mika Zibanejad - Rick Nash
Michael Grabner - Kevin Hayes - Jesper Fast
Jimmy Vesey - Oscar Lindberg - Pavel Buchnevich

Ryan McDonagh - Marc Staal
Brendan Smith - Nick Holden
Brady Skjei - Adam Clendening

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