There were plenty of injury updates to go around following the Rangers' practice on Friday before the team flew to Columbus to take on the Blue Jackets Saturday night, which precedes a four-day 'bye' week.
Rick Nash practiced again with the club but will not join the lineup until there is no pain in his injured groin. He's hopeful he'll be ready to go once the team returns to action net Friday against Toronto.
"Very optimistic I'll be able to play" after the break, Nash told reporters Friday. "Just finding that groove, getting back your timing and your speed and all that, which is hard when you're coming back from an injury. But I'm very optimistic that after the break I'll be back in."
Nash said he returned to the lineup last month too soon and had to overcompensate to play through the discomfort, which led to this most recent setback.
"I think we're on the right track now and just want to make sure it's back to 100 percent before I come back," Nash said, and added he'd "stay and work and do treatment" during the break.
The other positive sign at practice was Pavel Buchnevich traded his red non-contact jersey for a normal sweater for the first time. He was assigned to Hartford (AHL) following practice and will play for the Wolf Pack tonight.
Rangers head coach Alain VIgneault said the organization would take it game-by-game and see how Buchnevich responds. He's been out since Nov. 12 with a back injury.
Vigneault said Mika Zibaenjad skated again before practice and said the center "felt real good." When New York returns to action next week it'll be close to eight weeks since Zibanejad broke his fibula on Nov. 20 against Florida.
The coach said barring any setback, the plan will be getting him back into practice and seeing how he is in terms of conditioning and that he feels good mentally and physically before he returns to the lineup.
Lastly, Vigneault said defenseman Marc Staal remains day-to-day with an upper-body injury.