PITTSBURGH — Could Rick Nash be back in action when the Rangers begin a three-game West Coast trip on March 16 against the Ducks? Maybe.
Coach Alain Vigneault suggested that a 10-to-14-day timeline is possible, and Nash, who skated Thursday for the first time since Feb. 2, agreed.
“Yeah, I hope so,” he said. “It was a good day today to get back out there and get a stride going. But obviously, you guys saw I didn’t do anything too crazy or stops and starts, so it’s going to be a bit of a process to get my legs back and my wind back and get my timing back. The big thing now is hopefully there are no setbacks.”
Nash, who has played in only 45 games, said after leaving the ice twice in the third period against Carolina on Jan. 22 and being diagnosed with a bone bruise, “I thought it was going to be a day-to-day thing. After the last time skating [Feb. 2], you knew it was more of a long-term injury . . . Seemed like it was one of those injuries that had to get worse before it got better. That was the case. We took our time and . . . today was a great step, skating and not feeling what I felt last time.”
Asked about his interaction with newly acquired Eric Staal, with whom he played on Canadian teams as a teenager and in the 2010 Olympics, and where he might fit when he returns, Nash said: “I’m at a point in my career, I want to win a championship. It doesn’t matter where I fit in the lineup as long as I’m part of the team and we’re winning.”
Notes & quotes: Marc Staal (flu) was scratched, so defenseman Dylan McIlrath, who skated as a forward against Columbus, stepped back in on the blue line.