GREENBURGH, N.Y. - Could Rick Nash play for the Rangers two weeks from now? If he's in game shape and continues to be free from concussion symptoms, it's certainly possible.
After he practiced in a non-contact jersey with the full squad Wednesday for the first time since Oct. 8, Nash said he felt better than expected and declined to discuss any date for his return but laid out a blueprint.
Nash, who said he will practice again Friday, intends to travel to Montreal for Saturday's game, continue daily on- and off-ice conditioning, and expects to practice with some contact next week. According to the schedule, the Rangers have four non-game day practices before they play Florida on Nov. 27 and five before visiting Boston the day after Thanksgiving.
"I need some good practices and today was really my first one," said Nash, who was hit high by Sharks defenseman Brad Stuart in the third game of the season. "I felt pretty good actually, better than I thought I would feel. I kept up, but there's still some work that needs to be done. I'm just following the doctor's plans and the trainers; been following it this long, so there's no point going off course."
Nash, who had little physical activity other than walking for almost a month, rotated onto several lines, including one with center Derek Stepan and Chris Kreider. "It's probably a bit tougher than [training camp] because you're working out right through camp," Nash said. "It's different than any other situation. When a guy comes back from any injury, whether it's a knee, an arm or shoulder, you always want to get into some bumping, some one-on-one play in the corners. I'm sure I'll do the same thing during the coming week."
Coach Alain Vigneault called it "a real encouraging day. I'm anxious to see how he's going to respond; I'm hoping all he's going to feel is a little bit of soreness. This is more up to him and discussing it with Rammer [trainer Jim Ramsay] and the doctors. At some point, it's going to become that he's cleared health-wise and it's just a matter of him feeling good about his conditioning and his timing."
Notes & quotes: Henrik Lundqvist and Cam Talbot will split the starts this weekend when the Rangers play in Montreal on Saturday and against Los Angeles at home Sunday, but Vigneault did not reveal the order because he hadn't told the goalies . . . Dominic Moore (strained oblique) is expected to play in Montreal, and Vigneault said the organization will discuss a possible reassignment to Hartford tomorrow . . . Ryan Callahan and Anton Stralman were given Wednesday off for treatment, but will practice Friday. The team is off Thursday.