Frustrated by another twist of fate but seeing the light at the end of the tunnel; that sums up Rangers captain Ryan Callahan's feelings. His broken left thumb is healing on schedule and he skated with his teammates Thursday for the first time since the injury.
"It was good . . . first day handling pucks, stickhandling and passing," said Callahan, who wore a non-contact jersey and is seven to 10 days from returning.
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Callahan, who was injured while blocking a shot by Caps defenseman John Carlson on Oct. 16, called it "extremely frustrating," particularly coming so soon after he rehabbed from off-season shoulder surgery.
"I worked hard all summer," said Callahan, who scored three goals in five games. "And I came back a little bit sooner than expected . . . I felt the last couple of games I was starting to feel my game a little bit, getting back in it, and then this happens."
Callahan recalled his immediate reaction: "I knew it wasn't good; I was hoping it was just a bruise and not a break. I was [ticked] off. You don't want to get hurt like this, especially coming off an injury, but after that initial shock or that initial disappointment, you get that mind-set of 'let's heal and let's get back.' ''
Callahan's hard-nosed game won't change. Asked if he would block a shot with five seconds left in his first game back, he responded: "I think you know the answer to that."
Dominic Moore, who strained an oblique muscle against the Islanders, will miss a week to 10 days. Brandon Mashinter stepped in on a line with Brian Boyle and Derek Dorsett. But coach Alain Vigneault said that with a favorable home schedule (six of the next seven games), someone could be recalled. "We're going on a game-to-game basis," he said. "Dom was helping us on that line and helping us on the penalty kill, so we're going to have to find some more penalty-killers." Jesper Fast, sent down when Carl Hagelin was activated from long-term injured reserve Tuesday, had played regularly with the team shorthanded and is a potential call-up.