CALGARY — Injured Rangers Derek Stepan and Kevin Klein, whose absence has been evident in the recent slide, have started skating in New York, coach Alain Vigneault said Saturday.
Klein, who strained an oblique muscle on Nov. 30 in the 4-3 win over Carolina, missed his sixth game Saturday, and was expected to be out two-to-three weeks. The two-week mark is Monday. Klein, a valuable right-handed defenseman, was 3-3-6 in 25 games and led the team with a plus-11.
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Stepan, who suffered broken ribs on a hit by Matt Beleskey in the 4-3 loss to Boston on Nov. 27, missed his eighth game. The team’s top center, who plays in all situations, was expected to miss four-to-six weeks. Stepan has six goals and six assists.
“What I’ve heard from back home is that both are skating, I want to say yesterday or the day before,” Vigneault said Saturday. “What that means for a timeframe, I don’t know, but they’re skating on their own. No setbacks, everything’s moving forward, and we’ll know [more] when we get back.”
Penalties irk Vigneault
In rewatching the Edmonton loss, Vigneault said he was not pleased with penalties taken by J.T. Miller and Chris Kreider away from the play.
At 9:27 of the first, Miller was whistled for roughing and Kreider was nailed for two minors, a roughing on Justin Schultz at 18:13 of the second and an interference call at 5:23 of the first on Leon Draisatil.
“Those are not very good penalties, we don’t want those,” Vigneault said, “they’ve been told, and hopefully, they won’t happen again.”
Looking to bounce back
Vigneault was hoping for bounce-back games from defensemen Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi, who were on the ice for five goals against on Friday.
“They’re elite players in the sense that there’s no doubt they’ve proven, by their play, that they can play a real good game,” Vigneault said. “I’m not quite sure what happened Friday night, and I’m not sure they could explain themselves. In an 82-game schedule, you’re going to have some nights that are more challenging than others.”