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Five injured Rangers take ‘steps in the right direction,’ Alain Vigneault says

Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist checks on left wing

Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist checks on left wing Jimmy Vesey, who took a hard hit from a Predators player, on Feb. 3, 2018, in Nashville, Tenn. Credit: The Tennessean via AP / George Walker IV

The quintet of Rangers who are sidelined are taking “steps in the right direction,” coach Alain Vigneault said Wednesday.

Defenseman Marc Staal, who missed his second game after an unpenalized high hit from Predators defenseman Alexei Emelin, “is still having neck issues,” Vigneault said. “Doctors are still trying to figure out what he has, we should know more in the next 48 hours.”

Jimmy Vesey, Pavel Buchnevich and Chris Kreider all skated Wednesday morning, he said, “and Kevin Shattenkirk is off crutches.” Vesey and Buchnevich are in concussion protocol; Kreider, who has missed 17 games, is rehabbing from a rib resection, Shattenkirk had surgery on Jan. 22 to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee.

DeAngelo paired with Smith

Rookie defenseman Tony DeAngelo skated on the third pairing with Brendan Smith, and played the right side. “He had a 50-50 game in Dallas,” Vigneault said. “I expect more from Tony with the puck. You’ve got a young player in a learning curve. If you want to stay in the NHL, you’ve got to make a statement on the ice, he’s always been an offensive, power-play-type defenseman. We have to make sure we’re steering him in the right direction.”

Blue notes

The Rangers wore their Winter Classic jersey for the second time at the Garden. They were blanked by the Maple Leafs, 4-0, while wearing the uniforms on Feb. 1 . . . Both first-round picks in last June’s draft scored against Bridgeport on Wednesday. Center Filip Chytil (21st overall) had his eighth goal in 27 games and center Lias Andersson (7th overall) scored his first AHL goal and added two assists in his sixth game for Hartford . . . Rick Nash, who scored in the first period, is three points away from 800 in his career. Over the last nine games, he is tied for second in the NHL in goals with seven.

New York Sports