For the first time since being hurt in the next-to-last game of the regular season, winger Ryane Clowe was back on the ice with his Rangers teammates taking part in practice Friday afternoon at the Verizon Center. Though he was wearing a non-contact jersey, Clowe indicated after the workout that his return to the linuep might come sooner rather than later.
"I guess it’s just kind of a projection here now," stated Clowe. "I’m not going to rule out tomorrow. It's tough to watch this time of year, playoffs. This is the time of the year I look forward to the most. It was kind of hard to watch last night. But I’ll discuss it with the trainers and the proper people today and let them know how I felt out there. So we’ll see."
Clowe has built the reputation as a solid post-season performer over the course of his eight-year NHL career, and provides the size, grit, and intensity the Rangers would love to see up front among their forwards. In 68 career post-season games with the San Jose Sharks, Clowe scored 18 goals and totaled 45 points to go along with 97 penalty minutes. He twice helped lead San Jose to the Western Conference Finals, notching ten points in 15 playoff games both in 2010 and 2011.
While admitting that he still needed to figure out if he could give and receive hits before being able to return to action, Clowe did say that conditioning was not a concern for him.
" I feel like at this time of year I can jump in any time," explained the 30 year-old Clowe, who scored three goals and totaled eight points in 12 games after being acquired from the Sharks. "Just because we’ve played a lot of hockey up to this point and I feel you can always run on adrenaline, like my first game in New York, I didn’t really have any sleep, but you can run on adrenaline and get back into it. So I don’t think conditioning is not that big a factor."
During his press conference after practice, Rangers head coach John Tortorella would not speak specifically about any of the injured Blueshirt players, but he did agree with Clowe that conditioning would not be a major factor in whether a player could return to the lineup or not.
"If we don't win we are done, so I don't give a damn about the conditioning," explained Tortorella. "If I think a player is going to help us, he's going to play."
Clowe's return to the ice was not the only piece of good news on the injury front for the Rangers, who dropped Game One here in D.C. Thursday night, 3-1. Derek Dorsett finally shed the non-contact jersey and took part in contact drills---of which there were many to start practice on Friday---and Brian Boyle skated in his first full practice, as well, also taking part in contact drills. And Marc Staal continued to practice with the team as he closes in on a possible lineup return, as well.
"It's good to see, good to have everyone out there today," said Rangers alternate captain Brad Richards. "In the best scenario everyone is healthy and a lot of (lineup) decisions need to be made. I know everyone's champing at the bit."
Game Two of this Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series takes place Saturday afternoon at 12:30, with the Rangers desperately trying to avoid falling into a 2-0 hole before returning to Madison Square Garden for Game Three on Monday night.