Like a late holiday present, two key injured Rangers took to the ice Friday at the Verizon Center in Washington. While Marc Staal, who is recovering from a concussion, skated with his teammates Ryan Callahan waited until the ice was clear before taking a quick on-ice twirl while wearing a brace on his sprained knee. Though they are at different stages of recovery, it was most definitely a big positive to see both on the ice skating.
Staal has been skating on his own for more than a week, and reported good hard skates this past Monday and again on Thursday before joining his teammates at the Verizon Center on Friday. Meanwhile Friday marked the first time Callahan has been on the ice since injuring his knee on December 10th against the Nashville Predators.
"It felt good," Callahan said after his brief on-ice session. "It's hard to tell with me just being in (sweatpants), but it felt good and you have to make sure of that before jumping into full equipment on the ice. It's the first step and it went well."
Callahan, who was diagnosed with a sprained knee and is expected to miss a total of 4-6 weeks of action, has been riding the stationary bike for "the last week or so". It is the third time he has been sidelined this season---first following off-season shoulder surgery, then because of a broken thumb, and now with the knee injury.
"It's been a tough year so far injury-wise for me, and it's been frustrating, hard, but at the same time it's part of the game," offered the Rangers captain. "I know today was a step in the right direction so it's a positive day, and I just have to keep working to get back in that lineup."
Despite having been limited to just 24 games played so far, Callahan has seven goals, just two shy of the team lead. His four power play goals are tied for the team high
Despite the good vibes from his light skate Friday Callahan understands he is still a ways away from returning to the Rangers lineup. However he said he was happy to know that the injury should not affect his status of playing for the United States at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Socchi.
"I thought about it because that's something I am working towards this year and I want to be a part of, but the way it looks now it doesn't look like (the injury) will affect that at all," Callahan said of his playing in the Olympics. "That's a good thing, but my main concern is getting back and playing for the Rangers. That's what I am working so hard to do."
Staal, who will miss his ninth consecutive game on Friday night, would appear to be much coser to a return to the lineup, though he said after the morning skate he did not have a timetable regarding his return. Staal will take part in his first full practice since suffering the concussion on December 7th against the Devils on Saturday in Washington before the team flies down to Tampa Bay.
The team's alternate captain said he would not rule out a return to action at some point during the Rangers current five-game road trip.
"It's certainly not out of the question," offered Staal. "If today and tomorrow go well, and hopefully my legs kind of catch up to everything else, then nothing is out of the question. I don't want to get too far ahead of myself looking forward, though."
While he said it will be good "to get some bumps" in practice, Staal believes it is most important he gets his "wind and legs" back before he is ready for a lineup return.