GREENBURGH — Blake Wheeler laughed when asked about his tumble into the boards during the Rangers’ practice Friday. The 6-5 Wheeler seemed to get up a little slowly after his fall, and it was a couple of minutes before he got back into the drills, but he said he’s fine.
“Yeah, everything’s OK,’’ he said with a chuckle before the team left for Saturday’s game against the Capitals in Washington. “I think Schneids [Braden Schneider] and I just kind of — I think my toe clipped his heel and I [went down]. I survived.’’
Chris Kreider, who missed Thursday’s practice with what the Rangers called a lower-body injury, also went down Friday, taking a hit from K’Andre Miller during a scrimmage near the end of the 50-minute practice and slamming into the boards. He fell and got up a little gingerly, and everyone stopped for a moment to make sure he was OK.
“You never want to see a guy go down, especially in practice,’’ center Vincent Trocheck said. “You make sure they get up and they’re all right.’’
Kreider did get up, and he apparently was all right, as he was able to do his regular post-practice routine of tipping and redirecting shots in front of the net a few minutes later.
“They finished. They’re good,’’ coach Peter Laviolette said of Wheeler and Kreider.
Given the fact that forward Barclay Goodrow missed practice for the second straight day after leaving Tuesday’s loss in Ottawa in the first period because of a puck to the face, the Rangers were fortunate that Wheeler and Kreider were OK.
The team already is playing without injured forwards Filip Chytil (who has missed 14 games with an upper-body injury that is suspected to be a concussion) and Kaapo Kakko (four games missed with a lower-body injury).
Forward Riley Nash was called up late Thursday from AHL Hartford as insurance against Goodrow being unavailable Saturday. Nash skated in Goodrow’s spot as the fourth-line center Friday between wingers Jimmy Vesey and Tyler Pitlick.
Laviolette was somewhat evasive when asked if Goodrow was going to make the trip to Washington. He said Goodrow was in the building but suggested that the team had yet to decide if he would make the trip.
Wheeler recently has begun wearing an undershirt with cut-proof technology that offers neck protection. He joined Nick Bonino, who recently began wearing a neck guard in the aftermath of the Oct. 28 death of former NHL player Adam Johnson in a game in England. Johnson died after his neck was cut by a skate.
“I started wearing the [cut-resistant] wrist stuff a number of years ago,’’ Wheeler said. “I got kind of a slice on my wrist. I got my leg cut once . . . so it’s something I’ve actually thought about for a while. But I feel like more recently the technology has kind of caught up, where it’s quite a bit more comfortable . . . It’s kind of the same thing with the neck [protection]. There’s no reason not to wear it.’’