Injured Wolski practices, but prospects limited
GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Rangers forward Wojtek Wolski is inching back to health, continuing to take part in contact drills. He practiced on a line Tuesday with Sean Avery and Erik Christensen, both of whom have been healthy scratches in recent games.
Wolski, who has not played since Nov. 3 and underwent surgery to repair a sports hernia five days later, might find himself in the same position as his practice linemates.
"I'm not sure," coach John Tortorella said. "We've got some guys playing really well right now, and I'm not sure what's going to happen with that."
Coming Thursday: Rangers live chat with Steve Zipay at 2 p.m. Request an email reminder now at newsday.com/rangerschat
The Rangers (22-8-4) have a logjam at forward, and with the success of the Brandon Dubinsky-Brian Boyle-John Mitchell line recently, that leaves little room for the likes of Wolski and Avery to break into the lineup.
Wolski, though, said he was focused on getting back into game condition.
"You take so much time off and it really wears on you," he said. "Just getting out there and practicing hard and making sure that I'm able to have contact is the most important thing.
"Every day, it seems like it's getting better and I'm progressing. And that's exciting. I'm really looking forward to getting back into the lineup."
Defenseman Marc Staal participated in a second straight day of contact drills as he recovers from a concussion.
"It's a step at a time, and again, I don't think there's been a whole hell of a lot of contact with him," Tortorella said. "It's up to him, how he feels going about his business.
"I don't think there's any timetable as far as him returning, but the process hasn't stopped. It continues to move forward, which is a positive."
As for when Staal will return, Tortorella remained cautiously optimistic, saying that it would be a "great surprise."
On the defensive front, Jeff Woywitka (foot) says he is ready to return Wednesday against the Capitals after missing the past four games. Stu Bickel did not practice after his fight with the Islanders' Micheal Haley on Monday resulted in a swollen right eye. He is expected to dress Wednesday.
This could result in Tim Erixon being demoted to the AHL's Connecticut Whale. The 20-year-old rookie defenseman has not recorded a point in 13 games.
"He's been OK, but he's still learning," Tortorella said. "If we get healthy enough, we have to worry about what is best for him and not stop his process of developing as a player. He's still just a young kid that we're asking a lot of, even at that position."