GREENBURGH, N.Y. — Despite a fractured right thumb that was expected to keep him sidelined much longer, Rangers defenseman Kevin Klein is expected to return Saturday against the Flyers.
“I’m definitely ready to play. I felt like I could’ve played [Thursday],” said Klein, who was injured when he fell after a check from the Devils’ Reid Boucher on Tuesday. “But they felt I should have some battle drills to make sure I’m ready.”
Klein, who went off screaming Tuesday, and for five or 10 minutes, he said “it was one of the more painful [injuries] I’ve had. Then it settled down.”
The veteran blueliner, who will wear a splint under his glove, was surprised at the rapid recovery. “I was having issues a little before, and that just compounded it, but . . . it can’t get any worse and can heal on its own,” he said, adding that the injury will have no impact on his game. “I’m good to go.”
When he woke up Wednesday, Klein said, “it felt the same [as before] and I said, ‘Well, that’s not bad.’ I went to see the hand specialist, he gave me the info and we talked it through. Then I found out I was out indefinitely and I started laughing. The doc was laughing, too. He said you could possibly play, it’s just painful. Just miscommunication.”
In 38 games, Klein leads the team at plus-14, ranks second in average ice time at 20:01 and is third in blocked shots with 81.
Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said he wanted to double-check with the medical staff but expected Klein, who missed 11 games with a strained oblique earlier this season, to dress against the Flyers. Rookie Dylan McIlrath, who Vigneault said had “one of his more average games” subbing for Klein against the Wild, is likely to be scratched.
Notes & quotes: Rick Nash (bone bruise, left leg) did not skate, will not make the trip and will miss his fifth game. “He didn’t feel like there was any sign of improvement. Our guys just felt he should stay off it,” Vigneault said. “He’s going to stay behind and come in for treatments [Saturday and Sunday]. Hopefully, in the next three or four days, we can get the pain down. If he comes in and wants to skate, he can.”. . . Jayson Megna, who played against the Wild, was returned to Hartford. Vigneault said Tanner Glass will play on the fourth line against the Flyers.