GREENBURGH, N.Y. — Chris Kreider floored it down the middle of the MSG Training Center ice, then received the puck in the offensive zone from Jimmy Vesey. The ensuing shot went wide, but at least the player skating in the red non-contact jersey was out there again Wednesday to take it.
This day marked Kreider’s return to practice with the Rangers after experiencing an ordeal. He left a game against Washington Dec. 27 with a swollen right arm, got diagnosed with a blood clot and underwent a rib resection Jan. 7. He has also suffered the pain from being limited to watching or listening to the last 20 games.
So how did he feel out there?
“Probably faster. That rib was really weighing me down,” Kreider joked.
But what the 26-year-old left wing went through was no joke. It gave him a different perspective.
“I don’t think I took this for granted ever,” Kreider said, “but it definitely makes you grateful for everything that you have.”
Now the question becomes: When will he return to the lineup?
“He’s feeling good health-wise,” coach Alain Vigneault said. “He’s resumed skating. He’s resumed hard training. But this was a serious injury he had here. So we’re looking at definitely game conditioning. So I don’t know if we’re talking two weeks or we’re talking a month. But the docs and him will evaluate this on a daily basis, and hopefully he can rejoin us at some point here in the future.”
Kreider had 11 goals and 11 assists in 37 games before the injury. His issue stemmed from birth.
“My first rib was fused to my second rib, pushing it up and kind of out of place,” Kreider said. “So I had like a wonky-looking collarbone my whole life. I didn’t ever think it was going to be a problem.”
He expressed appreciation for how the doctors, athletic trainers, coaches, players and management dealt with his situation.
“It was obviously not something that I wanted to go through, but the way they handled it was unbelievable,” Kreider said. “I can’t say enough about that and how lucky I am just to be in this organization and to be treated the way I was. No words.”
Notes & quotes: Pavel Buchnevich also returned to practice in a non-contact jersey. The winger suffered a concussion Feb. 1. Vigneault said he should be able to practice with contact Friday. Then Buchnevich and the medical staff will evaluate where he’s at . . . The Rangers face the Islanders Thursday night at Barclays Center. “We haven’t been real good against the Islanders in the last few games,” Vigneault said about going 0-1-1. “I think we’re due to have a real solid game.”