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Nash, Buchnevich Expected Back Friday Against Toronto

by Matt Calamia @MattCalamia / NYRangers.com

The Rangers are inching closer to 100 percent after their five-day 'bye' week, with forwards Rick Nash and Pavel Buchnevich expected to return Friday night when the Blueshirts host the Toronto Maple Leafs at The Garden.

Both players practiced on Thursday and head coach Alain Vigneault said both would be in the lineup barring any setback between Thursday night and Friday's game.

"It'll be a fun test," said Nash, who has missed the last eight games with a groin injury. "It feels ready to go. It was a tough practice today. There hasn't been much practice time, but that's just the way it goes. You're always nervous before a game coming back from an injury, but I'm looking forward to getting it going."

Nash said he has no lingering pain in the groin, which is different from the first time he injured it earlier in the season. He said while the rehab did not change from the first tweak, he gave this one more time to heal.

"[The injury] came at a tough time," Nash said. "The first one I was feeling great. I felt like I had momentum and playing my game. I come back and have a couple good games and then it just keeps slowing me down. I know when you come back from injuries it'll take a few games to feel like yourself again. It's going to be a battle. I'm going to have to work hard at it."

Nash, who has 13 goals and seven assists in 30 games this season, said it's been frustrating watching his teammates, but that their success has made it a bit easier.

"It's always a hard thing to watch from the press box," he said. "You always want to be out there helping the team. Lucky for me, the team has been playing great and it's been fun to watch, but I can't wait to get back on the ice."

Buchnevich, who has not played since Nov. 12 due to a back injury, spent the week with Hartford (AHL) where he had a goal and an assist in three games with the Wolf Pack. Vigneault said the coaching staff was pleased with his game overall.

"[Buchnevich] skated well today so I think we're good to go."

Buchnevich has four goals and four assists in 10 games this season.

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Defenseman Nick Holden did not practice on Thursday due to personal reasons, but Vigneault said he expected to have him in the lineup for Toronto on Friday.

Forward Jesper Fast did not skate because of the flu. Vigneault said he was sent home on Thursday and had lost considerable weight over the last few days. He is questionable for Friday's game.

Marc Staal is feeling "a little bit better" according to Vigneault, who added he is undergoing concussion protocol.

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