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Lundqvist to Return This Weekend in California

Plus updates from Wednesday's morning skate

by Matt Calamia @MattCalamia / NYRangers.com

If it were up to Henrik Lundqvist, Henrik Lundqvist would be in tonight's lineup against the New York Islanders.

"I could have been ready tonight, I think, but this igves me another couple days to work on my game," Lundqvist told reporters after he took part in the team's morning skate at The Garden. "Physically I feel great, but it's the timing and getting the speed up a little bit. [The trainers] gave me a game plan when [the injury] happened and we've been following it."

That plan, according to coach Alain Vigneault, was always for Lundqvist to target the Rangers' upcoming three-game trip through California that commences with practice Friday in Los Angeles before a meeting with the Kings Saturday night.

Vigneault said he's expecting his goaltender to start at least two of the three games, though he did not confirm which of this weekend's back-to-back set Lundqvist would start.

"I think if you asked him he'd probably want to play tonight, but we're going to get through what we had decided before," Vigneault said of Lundqvist.

"We're still looking at the different options [out west]," Vigneault added, "but he should be able to play two out of the three games."

Video: Lundqvist: I'm excited to get back into things

Lundqvist said the most challenging aspect of the injury for him over the last week has been remaining patient and not pushing himself too hard too fast, and credited goaltending coach Benoit Allaire for assisting him.

"I think that's the toughest part," Lundqvist said. "I think a week ago I wanted to go out there for two hours and just try to get back into things. But you can't rush it. I think it's important you stay patient. It's helpful to have a goalie coach that knows what to do in those situations to not rush it."

Lundqvist said he'd prefer to avoid the injury altogether, but admitted there could be positives to take from missing some time before the postseason begins in a few weeks.

"I think in this league and in this sport especially, you try to look at everything in a positive way, so I'm going to look at it that way," Lundqvist said when asked about the benefit of getting rest. "It's an opportunity to rest a little bit and work really hard in practice and come back in good shape.

"But if I had to choose?" Lundqvist asked. "Of course I'd want to play all the time."
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Vigneault said he is contemplating several changes to the lineup he deployed last night in New Jersey, though hinted they're more health related than performance.
"A back-to-back and some bumps and bruises that we're going to decide at some point during warmup," Vigneault said. "There is a possibility up front and definitely a possibility on D too."

With last night's game ending in overtime, the Rangers did not have a full morning skate with just the team's extras hitting the ice at The Garden Wednesday morning, including injured defensemen Dan Girardi and Kevin Klein.

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