GREENBURGH, N.Y. - Derick Brassard skated with the Rangers at practice Friday for the first time since coming down with a mild case of mumps, but the center said there is a chance he will not be ready to play at Carolina Saturday night because the five-day isolation period took a toll on his energy and conditioning.
"I'm not sure yet," he said. "I haven't done anything for five days and it was pretty rough out there today -- just the conditioning. I feel like the most frustrating part is that right now we're trying to reach another level in our games and you can see around the league that the intensity is high, and just missing five days, today I felt like I haven't skated in a long time."
Brassard was forced to leave Edmonton on Sunday with mumps-like symptoms and on Wednesday was diagnosed as the 15th NHL player to come down with the virus. He was the second Ranger, along with Tanner Glass. Teammate Lee Stempniak also is in isolation with a suspected case of mumps, as are Ken Gernander, the coach of the Rangers' Hartford affiliate, and Hartford player Joey Crabbs.
The Penguins announced Friday that defenseman Olli Maatta tested positive for the virus. He is the 16th NHL player to contract mumps.
Though he had yet to speak to Brassard, Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said he expected to have him back against Carolina. He pointed to Sidney Crosby, who played a little more than 20 minutes with the Penguins on Thursday night after missing three games with mumps.
"I saw Crosby last night," Vigneault said. "I would assume Brass should be all right . . . At this time I would think that Brass is going to play, so unless from now till later on tonight I get the indications that he's not up to par -- but it shouldn't be an issue."
Brassard said he woke up Sunday with a slight lump near his cheek and a short-lasting fever but otherwise showed minimal symptoms. Unlike most of his teammates, he had been unable to receive a booster because he had sinus issues at the time, he said. He added that he would gauge how he felt Saturday morning and go from there.
"There's no point in going out there if I can't really help," he said. "Today I tried to go pretty hard in practice to see where I was [and] I'm going to see tomorrow."
Notes & quotes: Vigneault said Henrik Lundqvist will get the start in goal at Carolina . . . The Rangers announced that they've given a one-year contract extension to backup goaltender Cam Talbot.