Saying afterwards that his undisclosed injury is "getting better", Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist took to the ice Thursday in Philadelphia following his team's morning skate to get in his own personal on-ice workout with goaltending coach Benoit Allaire. Though he would not divulge the nature of his injury, which kept him from practicing the past three days and which will sideline him tonight when the Rangers face the Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center, Lundqvist did share that he originally was hurt in the second game of the season in Los Angeles and has been dealing with the injury for more than two weeks.
"I got injured early on, so it's been around, it's been there, and it's been something I have had to look after almost every day," Lundqvist explained after his workout. "That's why I thought this week was a good time to kind of get rid of it. You always want to feel as close to 100 percent as possible, so that's why I have taken these couple of days."
Lundqvist refused to blame this unspecified injury for his slow start to the 2013-14 season, one that sees him with an uncharacteristically high 3.45 goals against average and below average .890 save percentage. He also added that he is eager to see how he feels Friday after pushing himself on Thursday following so many days off; and he is not sure if he will return to action Saturday in Detroit or at a later date.
"It's not something you want to deal with for a long time, but short term, sure, you can definitely play through it," Lundqvist said of the pain he has been dealing with. "You want to be able to go through a full season and play at a level you want to be at."
With the Rangers off to a 2-5-0 start and in desperate needs of wins, missing Thursday's game with the Flyers---at minimum---is a bitter pill for the uber-competitive Lundqvist to swallow.
"Personally you want to be out there and play and start winning, and help the team out to get points," said Lundqvist, who took shots from teammates Mats Zuccarello, Carl Hagelin, and Justin Falk Thursday. "It's a challenge to be patient. The season is long and you have to be smart about it, you can't rush it."
With Lundqvist sidelined, rookie Cam Talbot makes his NHL debut tonight against the Flyers, and fellow rookie Jason Missiaen was recalled from the Hartford Wolf Pack to serve as his backup, one night after starting between the pipes for the Rangers AHL affiliate.
Talbot seemed to be his usual relaxed self following the morning skate, which is not a surprise to those who know him well.
"He'll be fine," said rugged forward Brandon Mashinter who has been Talbot's teammate in he minors. "Cam is very calm all the time. I'm sure he'll have some nerves today, but he will handle it fine."
Mashinter will make his Rangers' season debut this evening after being recalled from Hartford on Sunday along with Chris Kreider. The 6-foot-4, 220 pound Mashinter, who had five assists in six games with the Wolf Pack, will take the place of Zuccarello in the lineup and will skate on the fourth line with Dominic Moore and Derek Dorsett.
"It's more performance-based," head coach Alain Vigneault said of removing the scoreless Zuccarello from the lineup. "That being said, though, there are quite a few players that could have been in his position, also. It's not like we are getting tons of offensive production up front here. He's the one tonight that sits out. I know he's disappointed, but he's a hard-working individual and hopefully when he gets back in he'll be able to step in and play well."