Mats Zuccarello out as injury bug finally hits Rangers lineup
DETROIT — The Rangers had been relatively healthy thus far through the season — but that is in the past tense because it was revealed Thursday that winger Mats Zuccarello is not going to make this upcoming two-game road trip due to a groin strain. Zuccarello is being considered “day-to-day,” but he will miss at least Friday night’s game in Detroit and Saturday night’s game in Columbus.
“We’ll see when we get back,” coach David Quinn said, “see how he looks then.”
Zuccarello had played all the team’s first 15 games, with 10 points, good for third on the team, including three goals. He had recently been on the right side of the top line with Mika Zibanejad and Vlad Namestnikov. Filling the void for Thursday’s practice was Pavel Buchnevich, who is trying to regain a hold on a roster spot after Quinn had made him a healthy scratch for two straight games and three of the first 13.
Buchnevich got back into the lineup for Sunday’s 3-1 win over the Sabres then scored a goal in the team’s 5-3 comeback win over the Canadiens on Tuesday night — their fourth straight victory.
After another practice with the Rangers, Boo Nieves was activated off IR and sent down to AHL Hartford. Nieves had been out since he suffered a concussion in the first preseason game Sept. 17, taking a hit from the Devils Eric Gryba.
Center Brett Howden returned to practice and Quinn said he’ll be ready to go for Friday’s game after he had missed Tuesday night with an upper-body injury. Howden, 20, had a scary collision with the backboards during Sunday’s game and was held out after that as a precaution.
“Should be good to go,” Howden said after practice.
Winger Jesper Fast had a maintenance day, but Quinn said, “He’ll be fine.”
Skating in his place on the right side of a line with Howden and Jimmy Vesey was Cody McLeod, who presumably will be a scratch if Fast can play.
Lias Andersson made his season debut Tuesday night, starting in Howden’s place, but he practiced Thursday as the fourth-line center, bumping Filip Chytil to the left wing while Vinni Lettieri skated on the right.
Chris Kreider was on the left side of a line with Kevin Hayes and Ryan Spooner.
Defenseman Freddy Claesson fully participated in practice again and he returns from a lower-body injury that has kept him out since Oct. 17. He rotated in and likely isn’t ready to return.
Author: Brett Cyrgalis