Zuccarello "Shouldn't Be Much Longer"

Jim Cerny
BlueshirtsUnited.com

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After a day off Monday the Rangers returned to practice Tuesday at the MSG Training Center, and there was intrigue based on who was on the ice and who wasn't, with the impending NHL trade deadline playing zero part in either bit of news. 

Mats Zuccarello, the injured Rangers winger, took part in practice again and looked good firing shots on goal despite his sore left hand. After practice head coach Alain Vigneault sounded pleased with Zuccarello's recovery from a non-displaced fracture in the hand which occurred during the Olympics.

"He's day-to-day now," Vigneault said of Zuccarello. "Don't expect him, obviously, tomorrow, but it's just a pain thing now. As soon as he can handle the pain then he'll be good to go. It shouldn't be too much longer."

Zuccarello was not available for comment following practice, but the popular Norwegian has worked extremely hard to put himself in a position to return from this injury sooner rather than later. He suffered the injury on February 16th and was told he'd miss 3-4 weeks from that point forward. To date he has missed two weeks of action, including all three Ranger games since the Olympic break ended.

In the midst of a breakout year at the NHL level, Zuccarello is second on the team with 43 points, third with 15 goals, and tied for first with 28 assists, in 58 games played. These three games are the first Zuccarello has missed due to injury so far this season.

Prior to the Olympics Zuccarello had recorded points in six straight Ranger games, going 2-6-8 during that span. He had four goals and ten points in the 11 games prior to the break.

While Zuccarello was on the ice with his teammates Tuesday, goaltender Henrik Lundqvist and defenseman Ryan McDonagh were not. Vigneault offered afterwards that he decided to let those two take maintenance days due to the heavy workload they have had.

"I just felt those guys needed an extra day to totally recuperate and get away from the game a little bit," explained the head coach. "Both those guys have had a lot of minutes this year."

Since returning from the Olympics Lundqvist has started two games and surrendered a total of ten goals, while McDonagh is coming off a a very physically-demanding game against the Bruins in which he was targeted throughout by the big Boston forwards.

Vigneault said that he will speak with Lundqvist Wednesday morning and make a decision on whether he or Cam Talbot will start in goal tomorrow night against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Madison Square Garden.

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The NHL trade deadline arrives at 3:00 PM Wednesday, but don't expect the Rangers to be spending too much time talking about what may, or may not, happen. Reporters looked for Ryan Callahan in the dressing room following practice, but he already had departed; and other players downplayed the doings on Wednesday.

"We try and keep the distractions out of the dressing room," Rick Nash said politely.

Dan Girardi added, "As players you don't control any of that stuff, so that's all management and coaches. I really don't have an opinion on any of that."