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Rangers back on the ice at informal skate; Zuccarello “As good as new”

Bobby Bevilacqua

Zuccarello 10-27

Mats Zuccarello is healthy and ready to have an impact on the ice with the Rangers this season. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

For the first time in quite a while, the New York Rangers were back on the ice, participating in an informal skate while getting re-acclimated to the ice at the MSG Training Center in Tarrytown, New York.

Almost all of the Rangers players were on the ice for the Tuesday afternoon scrimmage, excluding Henrik Lundqvist and Captain Ryan McDonagh, who are both away participating in the NHL Player Media tour. Amongst the mainstays and newcomers at the scrimmage was Mats Zuccarello, five months removed from a scary head injury.

In Game 5 against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Zuccarello was struck upside the head by a puck, causing him to miss the remaining 14 games of the playoffs, and leading to some scary symptoms. He suffered a brain contusion, a skull fracture, and the loss of speech for four days.

Thankfully, Zuccarello has said that all of the symptoms stemming from his head injury have subsided, and that he will not have any side-effects heading into the season. Although he still needs to get accustomed to skating and playing hockey again, his health is fine, which is most important.

“I feel good,” Zuccarello told Sean Hartnett of WFAN.com. “I feel awful on the ice though. Hopefully, that’s going to come. My head feels fine. I’m ready to go.”

While he has been in New York a bit longer than everyone else, the 5-foot-7 winger just started skating consistently about two weeks ago. He did participate in his annual charity game held back in June in Norway, his first hockey action since the injury.

“Obviously, I haven’t skated for that long,” said Zuccarello following Tuesday’s scrimmage. “I’ve been working out hard. It took me time to get going before I could do everything. I feel like I’m on my way there. We still have a week before the season starts. Hopefully, I’ll be ready to go. I couldn’t do everything I wanted to right away. I had to wait a little bit. I haven’t been skating for that long. Other than that, I feel good. It’s going to come as we go on the ice more and more here.”

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.jsThe Rangers will open the season with their training camp, beginning on September 17th, followed by the first preseason game against the Devils on September 21st. The first regular season game will be on October 7th against the Chicago Blackhawks. Zuccarello said that returning for the preseason game in his goal.

Ever since he entered the league in the 2010-11 season, the Norwegian has always played with an edge, with fire, with intensity. His passion on the ice is infectious, and he can often spark comebacks and better play out of his teammates. So naturally, one might ask if he will be able to play the same way following his injury.

“It’s hard to say before I go on the ice and play a game if it’s going to affect me,” Zuccarello told Matt Calamia from blueshirtsunited.com. “I don’t think about it. All I think about is getting back in shape and getting back to being game [game] ready. Nothing more than that.”

When asked if he would wind up changing his playstyle because of his injury, Zuccarello said, “I’m as good as new – as the doctors say,” also saying that would “just go in and play my game.” He was wearing a more protective helmet during the scrimmage, which he will likely continue to wear as the season progresses.

There are some other storylines to follow as training camp and the season begin, like the battle for roster spots amongst the Rangers’ bottom six forwards, the situation with Dylan McIlrath and Oscar Lindberg, both with one-way contracts, and where Kevin Hayes will fit in the lineup.

Hayes will be extremely important wherever he plays, whether it be as a center or on the wing on the second line. “I want to be a key part of this team from the start,” Hayes said. And lastly, you know hockey is near when Madison Square Garden starts laying down the ice.

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Get excited Rangers fans, hockey season is near!

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Posted on September 8, 2015, in Rangers Updates and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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