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Derek Stepan back: Preparing for Thursday's opener

Derek Stepan skates with the puck in the

Derek Stepan skates with the puck in the second period of Game 7 of the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs against the Washington Capitals. (May 13, 2013) Credit: AP

 

Derek Stepan, who practiced for ther first time since signing his two-year, $61.5 million contract on Thursday,  said he needs some more conditioning and time to adjust to the head coach Alain Vigneault's system, which requires different reads on offense than under John Tortorella.

And he was met with a twist: Brad Richards on left wing, a Vigneault experiment, and Ryan Callahan on the right, subbing for Rick Nash, who sat out with a sore foot after being hit by a shot against the Kings in Las Vegas Friday.  Nash is expected to be back at practice Tuesday.

“It’s been great to be back in the swing of things,” Stepan said. “I’ve been trying the best I could do to stay in shape and I felt I did a pretty good job with it. There’s going to be a couple of days here where I’m going to have to do the best I can to adjust. I’ve never played it before but I’ve seen it before so it’s something I should be able to adjust to pretty quickly.”

“My biggest objective is just to get back and be ready for Thursday,” the opener in Phoenix, Stepan said. “I know I have the support off the guys on the team and the coaching staff so I’m not too worried about proving anything to anyone in here.”

Said Vigneault: "I thought he looked very sharp."

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