Chris Kreider recalled from AHL Connecticut

Chris Kreider of the Rangers skates against the

Chris Kreider of the Rangers skates against the Tampa Bay Lightning. (Feb. 10, 2013) (Credit: Jim McIsaac)

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Brian Boyle's injured right knee is expected to keep him sidelined, so Chris Kreider likely will play for the Rangers Thursday night against the Florida Panthers at the Garden.

Kreider, who was recalled Wednesday from AHL Connecticut after Boyle did not practice, had a goal and three assists in six games for the Whale since being reassigned April 3.

It will be Kreider's third stint with the Rangers this season. The left wing made the team out of training camp. He is 2-1-3 in 17 NHL games after scoring five goals in last spring's playoff run. He is 12-11-23 in 48 games with the Whale.

Boyle, who left the 4-2 loss in Philadelphia late in the first period and did not return, was examined but the team provided no update Wednesday night. The Rangers, tied for the final playoff spot in the East with six games to play, visit Buffalo Friday in the final back-to-back of the season.

Derek Stepan, who scored his 15th goal of the season in Philadelphia, also did not practice, but appears to be fine after a high hit from behind by Claude Giroux in the third period.

"I'm just banged up a little bit," Stepan said. "I felt a little confused at first, but it wasn't anything serious. It took me a few seconds to grasp my bearings. It was almost like a ding."

One injured player who participated in a full practice for the first time in almost six weeks was defenseman Marc Staal, who was struck above the right eye by a deflected puck on March 5. Staal's vision is improving, but still blurry, and he would not discuss a timeline for a return.

"He's getting better fast, which is a good sign," defenseman Ryan McDonagh said. "He's working hard after practice doing extra drills and conditioning."

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