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Kevin Klein close to returning to Rangers' defense corps

Kevin Klein of the Rangers shoots the puck

Kevin Klein of the Rangers shoots the puck against the Nashville Predators at Madison Square Garden on Monday, March 2, 2015. Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

PITTSBURGH - Injured Rangers defenseman Kevin Klein has recovered from a recent setback in his rehab from a broken left arm and could return in the first-round series against the Penguins.

"It feels pretty good," Klein said after skating and shooting pucks with teammates Monday morning for the first time since March 11. "I was almost shooting [full], so I was pretty happy with that, how it came along the last two days. Now it's getting used to battle drills and different movements on my backhand."

The rugged Klein, who had nine goals and 17 assists in 65 games and was a plus-24 before being hit by a shot from the Capitals' Alex Ovechkin, said the pain is lessening and his strength increasing. He likely will practice Tuesday and be checked to determine his status for Game 4 here Wednesday or Game 5 Friday in New York.

It was said that he would be back for the start of the playoffs, but he hit a detour while skating with coaches and working out. "You can do stuff for pain,'' he said, "but then there are times, especially a week and a half ago, where you push too hard and my arm would go numb or I couldn't hold on to the stick."

Klein said the healing "was progressing really well . . . and then it kind of stopped. We've been really careful the past week and a half. Now I'm going with how it feels, and it's coming along nicely."

Not being ready for the first three games, Klein said, was "disappointing . . . Hunny's [Matt Hunwick] stepping up, he's been playing great, so that's comforting. I'm just trying to get back as soon as possible and not have any more setbacks. I want to be 100 percent so they can rely on me. When you've got big bodies coming in on you, you want to be sure of yourself and making sure you can hold your ground. You don't want to be focusing on an injury while you're focusing on playoff hockey."


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