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Prospal takes next step in recovery

by Staff Writer / New York Rangers
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By Jim Cerny,

Vinny Prospal sat at his locker stall on Monday at the MSG Training Center after taking part in his first complete practice with his teammates since undergoing knee surgery back in October. He was looking both exhausted and happy.

Prospal was exhausted from the grueling 60-minute practice which featured many conditioning sprints at its conclusion. Yet he was also quite happy to take the next step towards his eventual return to the lineup.

“I am a little winded right now because that was one of our harder practices,” said Prospal following the on-ice workout. “It’s always better to go through the torture of this skating when you are with your teammates.”

Rangers alternate captain Vinny Prospal's road to complete recovery from knee surgery has reached the point where he is now able to participate in practices, although he must still avoid contact.
The veteran forward has been through numerous solo conditioning skates conducted by assistant coach Mike Sullivan before or after team practices since being cleared by doctors to skate several weeks ago. Only recently has he been taking part in optional morning skates with his teammates on game days. And, after being cleared by the Rangers medical staff over the weekend, Prospal was allowed to take part in his first practice today, although he was still wearing the orange non-contact jersey.

“Skating on my own these last three days over the weekend has made my leg much, much stronger,” said Prospal. “Every time I had gone out there (to skate) previously it was only after being in the gym. But now I went out there before going in the gym and my leg felt so much stronger. I was a little surprised, though, I was told to practice today. So I just want to see how it feels tomorrow.”

Last week, Rangers head coach John Tortorella said that his best guess would be that Prospal might be back in the lineup by mid-January

On Monday neither Tortorella nor Prospal was willing to commit to any timetable for Prospal’s return.

“It was good to see him back on the ice practicing,” said Tortorella. “I know the boys were happy to have him out there. So little by little we’ll just see. It’s up to him how he feels moving along here.”

Sandwiched between off days on Sunday and Tuesday, Monday’s practice was full of fast-paced skating and shooting drills, and concluded with training-camp-like sprints.

Impressively, Prospal did not look out of place and he seemed to skate without trouble throughout.

“Every day you push it more and more, obviously the muscle has to get stronger,” said Prospal. “It just feels like it’s stronger now. But I know that I have to work even harder, especially when I push off the first few strides. I need to be stronger with that. And I need to continue to work on my conditioning because I have been out a long time.”

Boogaard unable to take part in practice again

Derek Boogaard
One player who did not take part in practice again on Monday was enforcer Derek Boogaard, and Tortorella said that the rugged winger is likely to be shut down for a little while, although not necessarily because of his original shoulder injury.

Tortorella explained that while working out off-ice and rehabbing his injured shoulder in recent days Boogaard has been experiencing headaches. Although no official prognosis has been made Tortorella did indicate that Boogaard very likely will undergo some tests to determine the reason for these headaches.

“With Boogey it started off with his shoulder, and now he has had some problems here as he has begun to workout with headaches,” said the head coach. “It’s kind of compounded a little bit. We have to wait and see. (Rangers head trainer Jim Ramsay) is watching over him. We have to be concerned about this.”

Boogaard has missed the last five games since being hurt in a fight with Ottawa’s Matt Carkner on Dec. 9. And Tortorella has already ruled him out of the Rangers’ next game on Thursday against the Lightning at Madison Square Garden.
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