Rangers Practice Report: Stepan and Klein progressing, Skjei to play Thursday

Bobby Bevilacqua

brady skjei full body 12-15

Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

The Rangers practiced today ahead of their two game road trip, beginning tomorrow night against the Minnesota Wild, who sit in third place in the very competitive Central division.

The Rangers are coming off of what was overall a pretty good performance against the Edmonton Oilers, tightening up defensively despite the injuries on the back end. Dylan McIlrath was outstanding, logging 18:38 of ice time and scoring his first career NHL goal.

Brady Skjei made his NHL debut at Madison Square Garden, and showcased some of his really impressive talents and abilities. His skating, probably his best asset, was strong, catching up to guys like Jordan Eberle and Leon Draisaitl, and then pushing them off the puck. And after making a mistake that led to a goal, he bounced back and played well. I highlighted some of his better plays, which you can read HERE.

All eyes will be on Skjei again, as he will play his second consecutive game while Dan Girardi recovers from his knee injury. Girardi will not travel with the team, and is still listed as day-to-day. Skjei, a Lakeville, Minnesota native, grew up 35 minutes from the XCEL Energy Center, and has even played some games there. He’ll get another chance to prove his talents to the coaching staff and play in front of family and friends.

Derek Stepan and Kevin Klein both skated in regular, contact jerseys at practice this afternoon, meaning that both players are progressing and coming close to making their return to the lineup.

Stepan has missed the last nine games with broken ribs, dating back to November 27th, and Klein has been out for the last eight games. Despite the progression, they will not play Thursday night. However, Friday has not been ruled out.

Klein has been out for a little over two weeks, so his return would be when the team expected him to be back. But Stepan has only been out for 19 days, almost three weeks. His original expected return was four to six weeks. Then again, this is the same guy that missed one game with a broken jaw and was ahead of schedule when he broke his leg.

I was originally confused as to why the Rangers didn’t put him on IR and use the cap space to call up a defenseman or spare forward. But by not putting him there, they may have saved themselves two games without Stepan. If he was on IR, he couldn’t have returned until the 22nd of December. If he comes back for Friday’s game in Winnipeg, that’s two extra games that the Rangers get to use him for.

The Rangers and the Wild will play tomorrow night at 8 PM.

Posted on December 16, 2015, in Rangers Updates and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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