MONTREAL -- Rick Nash, the Rangers' prized power forward who will miss his 16th game tonight after suffering a concussion on Oct. 8, has set a timetable for his return: He has targeted Tuesday's home game against the Bruins or Thursday's road game in Dallas.
"Hopefully, one of the games, for sure," Nash said after practicing at Bell Centre Saturday morning, "as long as there are no setbacks. Everything's been positive and I've been pushing it every day."
At this point in his recovery, Nash said, it is a matter of conditioning and building his leg strength, because he is free of the headaches that plagued him since the high hit from San Jose defenseman Brad Stuart. "I'm feeling better than I thought I would," said Nash, who sakted for the eight straight day. "I've only had two (full) practices with the team, plus the morning skates, I think I need a little more down-low work, 3 on 3 . . ."
The Rangers play Sunday at home against the Kings and are not scheduled to practice Monday, although Nash will likely skate with some players and participate in the morning skate Tuesday, that might not be enough to satisfy both himself and the trainers that he is ready to face Boston. The Rangers are scheduled to practice Wednesday before leaving for Dallas, which begins a five-game road trip.
Nash, who has scored 30 or more goals seven times, would be a much-needed boost to the top lines and the power play, which was 2-for-the-last 18 going into Saturday's game.
Settling into coach Alain Vigneault's system right away will "be tough", Nash guessed. "Looking at the positives, I've had a chance to watch the games on TV?I'm sure it'll come."
Nash said he has not spoken to anyone with Team Canada, which will choose its roster for the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, by Jan. 1. "These things take care of themselves" he said. "Any Olympic year, it's always in the back of your mind, but right now it's been such a tough stretch that I'm just worried about getting back with the Rangers."
As for the hit that triggered this latest concussion---he also sustained a concussion on a check from Milan Lucic last season---Nash said he hadn't spoken to Stuart, who was suspended for two games, but appears to hold no grudge.
"It's a hockey play,'' Nash said. "I've had some dangerous plays against other players, but it was spur-of-the-moment, it happens, it's part of the game."