GREENBURGH, N.Y. — Kevin Hayes practiced fully with the Rangers Wednesday for the first time since he came out of the lineup after the Jan. 2 game against the Pittsburgh Penguins. But coach David Quinn said Hayes will not be ready to play Thursday against the Chicago Blackhawks at the Garden, and therefore he doesn’t see the point in bringing the center back for Saturday’s game in Boston against the Bruins, which is the final game before the NHL All-Star break.
“It doesn’t make a lot of sense to put him out there [against Boston], then maybe have a setback, when we feel if we hold him out these next two, there’s no looking back,’’ Quinn said of Hayes. “He’ll be 100 percent.’’
Hayes has missed seven games with an upper-body injury suffered in a game against Arizona Dec. 14.
DeAngelo enjoys playing time
Tony DeAngelo’s two-goal performance Tuesday in the 6-2 win over Carolina was his first two-goal game in the NHL. But the 23-year-old defenseman, who has been in and out of the lineup since just before the Christmas break, was just happy to be in the lineup for three straight games.
“Oh, it’s nice to score, no matter what,’’ DeAngelo said. “But it’s just nice to be playing. It’s good to be in there a couple games straight, get comfortable again.’’
Freddie Claesson is on injured reserve and Neal Pionk is out (he's battling a lower-body injury), so DeAngelo, a superior skater and passer known for his offensive skills, figures to play a lot until they come back. But he said he doesn’t feel pressure to put up points while he’s in the lineup in order to stay there.
“Obviously, I need to produce — it’s kind of my game,’’ he said. “But [points are] going to come. I’m not focused on points. To get the goals is nice, but the way I’ve played the last couple games, I’ve been happy with. I think if I keep that going, everything will kind of round into shape.’’
Zuccarello raises level of his game
Quinn said after Tuesday’s game that right wing Mats Zuccarello, the subject of endless trade speculation because he is in the final year of his contract, has been playing his best hockey of the season after talking to officials in the organization about his status. Zuccarello had three assists in Tuesday’s win and three goals in the two games prior to that.
Quinn said: “Nothing was resolved, but just the fact that there was a lot of talk between he and I — I know he’s talked to [GM Jeff Gorton] and Glen [Sather, the team president] — I just think he’s in a better place, mentally."
Buch staying on fourth line
Two power-play goals Tuesday won’t be enough to get Pavel Buchnevich off the fourth line.
“I was happy as heck for him, but those are two power play goals and there’s a lot of responsibility and a lot of ice time, five-on-five,’’ Quinn said of Buchnevich. “And we need him to be better five-on-five and more consistent five-on-five . . . so I think we’ll leave the lines as they are right now.’’