California, here he comes.
Henrik Lundqvist, who has missed seven games with a hip strain, is expected to play two of the three games on the West Coast trip that begins Saturday in Los Angeles.
Lundqvist feels so good physically that he wanted to start against the Islanders on Wednesday, but was overruled by the training staff and goalie coach Benoit Allaire.
“I know I’m going to play a couple games out west,” Lundqvist said after a morning skate at the Garden. “I could have been ready tonight, I think, but this gives me another couple days to work on my game. Physically I feel great, but it’s the timing and getting the speed up a little bit.”
The Rangers will practice Friday in Los Angeles before facing the Kings on Saturday, and coach Alain Vigneault was unsure which of the games (in L.A., Anaheim on Sunday, or San Jose on Tuesday) Lundqvist would start. “We’re still looking at different options,” Vigneault said, “but he should be able to play two out of the three.”
Staying patient has been tough for Lundqvist, 35, who is 30-17-2 record in 51 appearances. “It’s helpful to have a goalie coach that knows what to do in those situations to not rush it,” he said. Lundqvist, who played for Team Sweden in the World Cup in September, conceded that the rest might help down the road
“In this sport especially, you try to look at everything in a positive way,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to rest a little bit and work really hard in practice and come back in good shape . . . But if I had to choose? Of course I’d want to play all the time.”
Tanner Glass stepped in on the fourth line and Steven Kampfer, scratched for last two, drew into the lineup on the third defense pair in Wednesday’s game against the Islanders. Pavel Buchnevich and Adam Clendening were scratched. Vigneault had said earlier Wednesday that some guys had “bumps and bruises.”