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Good Afternoon

Chris Kreider returns to practice, slated to play Friday

Rangers left wing Chris Kreider sets for a

Rangers left wing Chris Kreider sets for a faceoff against the St. Louis Blues at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 1, 2016. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Chris Kreider is always burning to play. As it turned out, that fire cost him.

Long before practice on Thursday, Kreider, who flew to New York from Edmonton and underwent extensive testing to determine if his continuing problems — stemming from neck spasms — were possibly post-concussion symptoms, was back on the ice in full uniform.

And he’ll start Friday when the Rangers wrap up their four-game road trip against the Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena.

In the visitor’s dressing room, Kreider admitted that he exacerbated the issue himself in his desire to recover from the neck spasms that forced him to miss four games from Oct. 23 to Oct. 30.

“In retrospect, you injure something, you just don’t keep on hammering it, treating it,” Kreider said. “It just increases inflammation and creates problems. But that’s kind of how I operate, just a little too proactive. You need to give it some rest, let it calm down. That’s on me. I thought the team and the training staff did a great job handling it the way they did.”

After playing 16 minutes in Calgary on Saturday, Kreider was in a little pain when he appeared at team meetings Sunday, and was flown east for re-evaluation. “It wasn’t really getting a lot better,” Kreider said, “we were monitoring it, the training staff and the doctors” and everyone became concerned.

“It was some stuff that ran parallel with some post-concussion things, so it was something that we wanted to sift through and determine that wasn’t that, because that’s something you don’t want to mess around with. I can only say good things about this organization. They were looking out for me when they sent me to get a second opinion. Luckily, I got the best news possible.”

Kreider, who has three goals and eight assists in 11 games, said he’ll won’t need medication or wear extra padding. “Warm it up, some rehab and strengthening, that’s the plan.”

In all, it was a relief for the team and coach Alain Vigneault, who had been reluctant to say anything about the issue since Sunday, and the mood was lighter.

“In today’s game, organizations and players know a lot more [about concussions],” said Vigneault. “We waited until we knew what it was, and now he’s good to go.”

Notes & quotes: Henrik Lundqvist (9-4-0, 2.24 GAA, .920 save percentage) will start Friday . . . Pavel Buchnevich (back spasms) was feeling a little better, and likely will skate with the extras Friday morning, but won’t play for the third straight game, Vigneault said . . . With Derek Stepan and Kevin Hayes, who took maintenance days Thursday to heal from blocked shots, ready to play, Cristoval “Boo” Nieves was returned to Hartford. “I told him it was a good start,” Vigneault said of Nieves’ NHL debut on Tuesday . . . C Josh Jooris (dislocated shoulder) is closer to returning. He practiced without a non-contact jersey for the first time since the Oct. 26 injury against the Bruins. Jooris said the shoulder felt fine but needed another practice or two.

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