Rick Nash of the New York Rangers is introduced in...

Rick Nash of the New York Rangers is introduced in the pregame ceremony prior to playing the home opener against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Madison Square Garden. (Jan. 20, 2013) Credit: Getty

 Signs that “The Descent” (Bob Mould reference) by the Rangers may be over:  Rick Nash and Ryan McDonagh both participated in today’s morning skate and sounded upbeat afterward.

Nash was a little more cautious, saying the would not declare himself totally good to go after missing four games until after warm-ups at Madison Square Garden, but my instincts say he’ll dress.

McDonagh, who has a 12-stitch gash on his lip from the Max Pacioretty hit in Montreal on Saturday, said yesterday that he felt strong, and said nothing today to indicate otherwise and answered questions about facing Tampa.

Michael Del Zotto (hip) skated but was not in the locker room afterward, so it’s unclear whether he’ll play.  Matt Gilroy, Arron Asham (back spasms), Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards did not skate in the optional; Gilroy usually does on game days, but has the flu according to one report. Gaborik and Richards just chose not to skate.

Henrik Lundqvist is expected to be in goal, Martin Biron was on the ice.

If Del Zotto and Gilroy cannot go, Stu Bickel, who was in a forward jersey this morning, would need to return to defense. If one of them can, then Bickel might be on the fourth line and Chris Kreider, the last one on the ice doing conditioning drills, would be scratched. I’d rather see Kreider, but….it’s the coach’s decision.

If Nash returns, and he likely will, it’s possible that Marian Gaborik will shift back to the left side, because there’s a surplus of right wings:  No. 10, Nash, Callahan and Miller

We’ll know more this evening.

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