GREENBURGH, N.Y – The Rangers got both good and bad injury news on Friday.
The bad was that forward Tyler Motte suffered a “significant” upper body injury in Thursday night’s game against the Penguins and will be out indefinitely.
The good was that two other forwards, Kaapo Kakko and Kevin Rooney, returned to practice after long absences.
Coach Gerard Gallant said Kakko and Rooney would be evaluated by the training staff and that there is a chance one or both could play against the Senators on Saturday.
Pending the results of Friday night’s Islanders game, the Rangers could clinch a playoff spot with a victory over Ottawa. An Islanders loss to the Hurricanes in regulation time also would secure a Rangers berth.
Motte was hurt in the third period against Pittsburgh on Thursday when Anthony Angello caught him in the shoulder with a big hit. Motte was penalized for interference.
The Rangers said Motte’s injury was not to his head. Gallant said he initially thought Angello did catch Motte’s head, and that the hit was not as bad as he first thought.
Still, the coach said he did not like the hit because he thought Angello should have seen Motte was in a vulnerable position and could not see him coming.
Kakko has not played since Jan. 21 and Rooney since March 2, both because of “upper body” injuries. But they had been skating on their own before joining practice fully on Friday. Kakko worked with Barclay Goodrow and Alexis Lafreniere.
“They look really good out there,” Gallant said. “They’ve been skating a long time. Conditioning is not an issue.”
Kakko and Rooney were not made available to reporters.
Kakko, the second overall pick in the 2019 draft, has five goals in 37 games this season. Gallant said he wants Kakko to continue developing, especially as a scorer.
“He’s just growing,” the coach said. “He’s taking another step. He’s trying to be a man.”
Gallant said he would not celebrate when the Rangers officially clinch.
“My expectations were to make the playoffs,” he said. “So I’ll be happy, but I’ll celebrate at the end of June, hopefully. That’s when you want to celebrate.”
Filip Chytil (upper body) did not practice and is day-to-day . . . Chris Kreider has 47 goals this season. Asked what it would mean to have him reach 50, Mika Zibanejad joked, “I’m not shooting until he gets it.”