Zuccarello Practices As Team Readies For Battle vs. Flyers

Jim Cerny
BlueshirtsUnited.com

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In what was most definitely a positive step in his recovery from a non-displaced fracture in his left hand, Mats Zuccarello took part in practice with his Rangers teammates Friday morning at the MSG Training Center. Though he did not take part in all of the drills--most noticeably sitting out the special teams portion of practice--Zuccarello was able to pass and shoot wrist shots, if not slap shots, as he practiced for the first time since returning from Sochi last week with the injured hand.

"It's been 12 days (since the injury) so it's going to hurt a little bit, but it gets better every day," Zuccarello reported after practice. "You have to see how far you can go, then you feel the sting and you know I can go up to there, and you keep it there (during practice). It's a lot better now than it was 3-4 days ago."

There was no further update on Zuccarello's status or timetable for return. The original diagnosis still stands, that Zuccarello would miss 3-4 weeks of action from the February 16th date of injury at the Olympics. Still it was a good sign to see the team's leading scorer back on the ice with his teammates, even if he still has a ways to go to work his way back into game action.

As for Zuccarello's Ranger teammates, they are coming off a 2-1 victory over the Blackhawks Thursday--the first game following the Olympic break--and now have their sights set on the Philadelphia Flyers, whom they will face on Saturday afternoon in the City of Brotherly Love.

"We have to expect a tough game, every time you go into that building they are ready to play," explained Henrik Lundqvist, who will start in goal Saturday after watching Cam Talbot stop 31 of 32 in shots in Thursday's victory. "We have to play our best. The guys here are aware of how important this stretch is and are focusing really well."

With 22 games remaining on the 2013-14 schedule the Rangers have 69 points, good for second place in the Metropolitan Division and three points better than the Flyers, who were beaten badly by the San Jose Sharks on Thursday.

"Prior to last night, there was a team that was like us, had a challenging start and then really turned their season around," head coach Alain Vigneault said of the Flyers. "It's going to be a tough game, divisional opponent where points are hard to come by, in a tough environment. It's going to be a good game."

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Vigneault said he'd like to get Derek Dorsett back in the lineup "sooner rather than later", but was unsure if he would make any lineup changes for Saturday's contest. Earlier in the week the head coach had praised the play of Daniel Carcillo on the fourth line, and had stated how pleased he was with the chemistry Carcillo has forged with Brian Boyle and Dominic Moore in Dorsett's lengthy absence due to a fractured fibula.

Dorsett has missed 18 straight games with the injury, but has been practicing with the team since last week and has been cleared to return to game action.

A decision will be made after Vigneault finishes watching game tape and then meets with his coaching staff later today in Philadelphia.