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Nash, Puempel Return to Practice Wednesday

Both players travel with team to Dallas

by Matt Calamia @MattCalamia / NYRangers.com

Reinforcements could be on the way for the Rangers as they begin a two-game road trip Thursday night in Dallas, as forwards Rick Nash and Matt Puempel practiced in regular jerseys on Wednesday.

Nash has missed the last week with a groin injury while Puempel has missed the same amount with a concussion. Both traveled with the team on Wednesday.

 

"I'm feeling better each day so it's a positive after a hard skate yesterday that you don't feel worse today, which is good," said Nash.

"I think we're going to see how it feels [Thursday] morning," Nash added. "Today was the hardest day yet and everything felt pretty good after practice."

Injuries never come at a good time, but Nash said he was frustrated because of how well he had been playing leading up to the injury in last Tuesday's game against the Islanders. He had four goals and three assists in the eight games before the injury, including an assist against the Islanders.

"It was tough," said Nash, who has 11 goals and seven assists for 18 points in 27 games this season. "I felt like I was feeling really good before and playing good hockey. It's a bit discouraging to go through an injury like this when everything seems to be going right."

Puempel, meanwhile, said he was feeling good after practice but still had to talk with the team's medical staff before taking the next step in his recovery.

"I feel good so far and I guess the main thing throughout the whole day is make sure stuff responds accordingly and what not but I don't see why it wouldn't," Puempel said. "It's been pretty successful so far with what we've been doing today."

Puempel has missed the last four games after taking a stick to the chin in the first period against the Islanders. He's been undergoing concussion protocol since.

"Last week was a couple tough days, but after the symptoms start going away and you get moving around and get sweating, you feel better," Puempel said. "You feel more energy."

While both players skated as defensemen Wednesday - often a sign of a forward who will not be in the starting lineup - the Rangers' decision to return Nicklas Jensen to Hartford (AHL) could be an indicator that one or both of Nash and Puempel could play Thursday in Dallas.

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Captain Ryan McDonagh did not practice Wednesday after he continues to battle the flu. He did travel with the team to Dallas and could be available against the Stars.

Fellow defenseman Brady Skjei did not practice as well after undergoing a dental procedure following getting hit with Kevin Hayes' skate blade in Tuesday's 2-1 loss to Chicago. He missed a portion of the second period undergoing stitches. He wore a full face guard upon his return.

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