GREENBURGH, N.Y. — Three days after Halloween, the Rangers finally got to say “Boo” on Saturday.
Cristoval “Boo” Nieves practiced with the Rangers for the first time since suffering a concussion on a hit by the Devils’ Eric Gryba in the preseason opener on Sept. 17.
Nieves practiced with Hartford while the Rangers were on the four-city road trip that ended on Thursday with a 3-2 shootout victory in Anaheim. There is no timetable for Nieves to be activated off injured reserve to make his season debut, but it was a boost for the travel-weary Rangers to see the 6-3, 210-pound center on the ice.
“Good news on Boo,” coach David Quinn said. “Boo’s a big body. He can skate. He has good stick skills. Unfortunately for him, I know him a little bit from afar because I didn’t get to see a lot of him in camp. For me, this is still a little bit of a feeling-out process, but I certainly like a guy that size that can skate.”
Nieves, 24, was the Rangers’ second-round pick (59th overall) in the 2012 entry draft. He signed with the Rangers after four years at the University of Michigan and played in one NHL game in 2016-17 and 28 more last season.
Nieves tallied three assists in his first NHL game of 2017-18. But it was all downhill from there as he suffered from a bout of food poisoning and a hip injury in the days after his stirring debut. His lone NHL goal came on Dec. 5.
On Jan. 15, Nieves was shipped back to Hartford, where he spent the rest of the season. Then, with a chance to impress a new coaching staff, Nieves had his season derailed before it started when he was injured.
“I’m feeling really good,” he said. “It’s nice to be back.”
Nieves said he’s physically ready to go and that the next step “is just the mental part of it. These guys are already a month and a half into the season. I feel a little behind. The mental aspect of it is, I think, the most difficult. Just making sure that you’re OK and ready to go, trying to get back to speed. I think they’re still going to take a little time with me and see how I feel over the next couple days and just take it day-by-day.”
Notes & quotes: Quinn said Pavel Buchnevich will return to the lineup after a two-game benching when the Rangers host the Sabres on Sunday. “I hope he’s [ticked],” Quinn said. “And I think he is. I want everybody to be [ticked] when they’re not playing. Now do something about it.” Buchnevich was not available for comment after Quinn made his comments . . . Fredrik Claesson (upper-body injury) practiced in a non-contact jersey . . . Marc Staal and Ryan Spooner had maintenance days and did not practice.