In the category of good news for a player and the team, Mika Zibanejad is making strides toward a return after missing five games with concussion symptoms.
The Rangers’ No. 1 center, a key factor in the team’s first power-play unit, has skated on his own for three of the last four days “and is progressing and doing well,” coach Alain Vigneault said Saturday. “I think today was a very positive day for him, I’m not sure what the time frame is, but he skated hard today.”
Zibanejad will not play against Dallas on Monday; he would have to practice before re-joining the lineup, Vigneault said. The Rangers are not practicing Sunday.
David Desharnais has taken over Zibanejad’s spot on the first line, but they are tough skates to fill. Zibanejad had 11 goals and 22 points when he was shut down on Nov. 28 before the game with the Florida Panthers. In his last four games before Saturday, Desharnais had a goal and four assists.
On second thought
Most coaches switch goalies in the second game of a back to back. Henrik Lundqvist does pretty well when he starts the second game after playing the first. Before Saturday, in the second game after playing both ends, he was 51-21-7 and 6-0-0, with a 1.65 GAA and .951 save percentage in the last six.
Paul Carey, who put in some very solid minutes against Washington on Friday, set up Jimmy Vesey for the first goal of the game. In the lone lineup switch, Vesey was dropped to the fourth line and Jesper Fast, who later scored, was moved up to the second . . . Coach Alain Vigneault gave linesman Steve Miller an earful on a questionable icing call with about six minutes left in the first period . . . Defenseman Steven Kampfer was a healthy scratch.