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Injured Derek Stepan unlikely to play against Bruins

Rangers center Derek Stepan (21) during training camp

Rangers center Derek Stepan (21) during training camp at the Madison Square Garden training facility in Greenburgh, N.Y., on Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014. Credit: Andrew Theodorakis

BOSTON - Derek Stepan, the Rangers' second-leading scorer who was injured in the 3-0 loss to the Islanders on Tuesday, flew with the team here on the first leg of a three-city trip but is not expected to play Thursday night against the Bruins.

"Most unlikely," said coach Alain Vigneault, who would only describe the injury as upper-body, and termed Stepan "day-to-day" after practice at the training center Wednesday.

Stepan, who did not practice, was slashed on the right hand by Matt Martin in the first period, skated for just 2:22 in the second period, and sat out the third.

Stepan's absence set in motion a number of moves, because the center, who missed 12 games at the beginning of the season with a broken fibula, plays in all situations: on the No. 1 line, on the first power-play unit and on the penalty-kill.

During practice, J.T. Miller was moved between Stepan's linemates, Chris Kreider and Martin St. Louis. Mats Zuccarello was shifted from the second power-play unit to the first and Lee Stempniak took Zuccarello's role on the second unit.

Miller has played center both in the NHL and AHL, but the Rangers (24-12-4) are hoping that Stepan can return soon. The Rangers visit Columbus on Friday and Pittsburgh Sunday. Vigneault did not rule out a call-up from AHL Hartford for those games. The Rangers were 6-4-2 in those 12 games that Stepan missed.

The third and fourth lines also were shuffled: Left wing Tanner Glass, a healthy scratch for the last six games, was installed on the third line with Kevin Hayes and Jesper Fast; Carl Hagelin was with Dom Moore and Stempniak.

Glass, who has one assist in 29 games and is a minus-12, said he last was a healthy scratch in Vancouver when Vigneault was behind the bench. He said he was eager to prove that he has a place in the Rangers' lineup.

"As much as he was working hard and trying to contribute, when he's on the ice, we need to spend a little bit of time in the offensive zone," Vigneault said.

"He's aware of that; I know what he can bring. He's hard on the forecheck, he finishes, he goes to the net hard, but we need to spend a little more tine with the puck in any zone."

Cam Talbot (4-3-1, 2.06, .929) who relieved Henrik Lundqvist after the second period on Tuesday and made 12 saves, will start against the Bruins, (23-15-6), who have won four straight.

Talbot has made eight starts. In his last, on Jan. 8, he made 28 saves in a 4-3 win over the Kings in Los Angeles.

Vigneault said that goaltender decision had been made before Tuesday's game. "If Hank doesn't stand on his head, it could've been over before the [Islanders'] shorthanded goal," he said.

Lundqvist is expected to start against the Blue Jackets in the second game of the back-to-back.

Notes & quotes: Rick Nash, the Rangers' lone representative at the Jan. 25 All-Star Game, was named an alternate captain for Jonathan Toews' team, which plays a squad drafted by Nick Foligno of the Blue Jackets.

New York Sports