Although he’s frustrated with being sidelined, Rangers captain Ryan Callahan’s broken left thumb is healing on schedule and he skated with his teammates Thursday morning before the Sabres game 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. “I’m sticking with the original three-to-four week (schedule)”, which means he is seven to 10 days from returning.
Callahan, who was injured blocking a slap shot by Capitals defenseman John Carlson on Oct. 16, called it “extremely frustrating,” particularly coming so soon after rehabbing from off-season shoulder surgery.
“I worked hard all summer to get back,” said Callahan, who had scored three goals in five games. “And I came back a little bit sooner than expected, which was good. 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. It’s frustrating but, at the same time, it’s part of the game. Unfortunately I’ve been through injuries before and I’ve just got to keep working and get back.”
In his first interview since the injury, Callahan recalled his immediate reaction. “I felt it, I knew it wasn’t good, obviously I was hoping it was just a bruise and not a break, but unfortunately it was. I was -------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 mindset of ‘Let’s heal and let’s get back,’ and that’s the approach I have now, to do everything to get back, staying in shape. I never stopped my conditioning, luckily enough, it was my hand, so I can still work my legs on a bike. I think that was a positive of it.”
Callahan said his hard-nosed game would not 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.”
Center Dominic Moore, who strained his oblique muscle in the first period against the Islanders, will miss a week to 10 days. Brandon Mashinter was set to step in, and was on a line with Brian Boyle and Derek Dorsett at the morning skate at Madison Square Garden.
But head coach Alain Vigneault said that with a favorable home schedule in the short term (six of the next seven games), someone easily could be recalled from Hartford. “We’re going on a game-to-game basis,” Vigneault said. “Right now we have 12 healthy forwards.”…Boyle was expected to replace Moore at center on the fourth line. “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, who was sent down on Monday in order to activate Carl Hagelin from long-term injured reserve on Tuesday, played regularly when the Blueshirts were shorthanded, and presumably is a potential callup.
Henrik Lundqvist (2-5, 3.25, .895) is back in goal against the Sabres. His last game was the 2-0 loss to Montreal on opening night at the Garden. Cam Talbot played Tuesday on Long Island and made 27 saves in the 3-2 win.
“It was back-to-back,” Vigneault said today in explaining his choice. “Maybe 10 to 15 percent was that Hank was coming off an injury; it had more to do that Cam was playing real well.” Vigneault said he had no concerns about managing Lundqvist’s time going forward: “He’s fine.”
What struck Vigneault about his new surroundings in his Garden debut? “First thing for me that jumped out was the blue sweaters,” he said. “It sounds ridiculous, but coaching the Habs and playing the Habs before, I thought the original red ones were outstanding. Seeing the blue, I thought it was fabulous, and just being behind the bench during the anthem. This is going to be a great place to be part of.”