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Rangers express hope that injured Rick Nash will return this season

New York Rangers forward Rick Nash skates as

New York Rangers forward Rick Nash skates as the team prepares for the 2015-16 season at their training facility in Greenburgh, N.Y. on Sept. 18, 2015. Credit: Ray Stubblebine

FARMERS BRANCH, Texas — If all goes well, it appears that the Rangers will have forward Rick Nash back later this season.

After the Rangers practiced Friday for Saturday’s game with the Stars to close out a three-game trip, coach Alain Vigneault delivered some positive news on Nash, out since Jan. 22 with a severe bone bruise in his left leg.

Asked if Nash was going to be placed on long-term injured reserve, Vigneault said, “No, in fact, he had an MRI yesterday. I read in an email today that everything’s fine; he’s still week-to-week but close to being able to start lower-body [such as riding a bike] . . . in the next week to 10 days.”

Nash has been in the gym doing upper-body training, but the team had not mentioned any timetable recently. “Anything bone-wise is usually four to eight weeks,” Vigneault said.

Putting Nash, who has 12 goals and 33 points in 45 games, on long-term injured reserve would have temporarily opened some salary-cap space and would indicate that he’d be unavailable for 10 games and 24 days.

Notes & quotes: Jesper Fast was struck in the face by a deflected puck in practice and left the ice shaken and bloodied. His nose was broken, and Vigneault said some teeth may have been loosened, but he added that the Swedish winger might play Saturday. “It looked all right when I left,’’ Vigneault said. “The bleeding was almost stopped and he’s in as good spirits as you can get.” If Fast can’t play, defenseman Dylan McIlrath will dress as the 12th forward . . . Henrik Lundqvist will start his fourth consecutive game and sixth in the last seven. “Hank is playing well right now and it’s not back-to-back,” Vigneault said. “Hank is feeling good. He feels he has a lot of energy.”

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