SAINT PAUL, Minn. — There were only three Rangers on the ice Thursday morning for a skate designed around players who are not scheduled to participate against the Wild here Thursday night.

One was goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, who said after the skate he would be starting against the Jets in Winnipeg Friday night, meaning Antti Raanta will get the call against the Wild.

Lundqvist said he did not have a preference as to which of the back-to-back road games he would start. “If they’re going to split it, it doesn’t really matter,” he said.

The others participating in what was an intense, 45-minute workout were center Derek Stepan and defenseman Kevin Klein. Stepan has been out since Nov. 27 after breaking two ribs and Klein has been out since Nov. 30 with a strained oblique muscle.

Stepan did not rule out playing Friday night in Winnipeg; Klein almost certainly will not. But both are getting closer to returning.

“My update is ‘day-to-day,’ ” Stepan said. “It’s getting better each day. As you [reporters] saw, we’ve pushed it harder and harder each day. It felt good this morning; it was a little stiff this morning . . . Tomorrow is a new day.

“I have gotten tremendously better this last week and each day is a bigger jump, but I have to get on the ice . . . I’m not really looking at the schedule. When I’m ready to play and when I think I’m good to go, regardless of where the games are at, I’m going to play.”

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Klein said he felt better Thursday than he had Wednesday. “So that was a positive,” he said. “It’s coming along.”