Garden In The Rangers Case Study

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As the Rangers get closer to full health, closer to having their full compliment of forwards, there is anticipation building to see if they'll resemble the fast and furious Rangers who wore teams down with four quick lines possessing consistent scoring threats over the first three weeks of the season.

At least one of their returning players is anxious to see what the 28-13-1 Blueshirts will be capable of.

"I think it's hard not to," Rick Nash said.

Nash and rookie Pavel Buchnevich are set to return to the lineup Friday night against the Maple Leafs (18-13-8) at the Garden in the Rangers' first game since Saturday in Columbus as they finish up their bye week. Both players practiced fully Thursday in Greenburgh.

After missing the last eight
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Buchnevich was called back up from Hartford after playing three AHL games, during which he had one goal and one assist. He's missed the last 27 games while going through a rehab to strengthen his core after dealing with back issues.

"We're confident that it's gonna pay off," Alain Vigneault said of the rehab program.

Not quite ready yet is Mika Zibanejad, who is cleared for contact and skated as a defenseman Thursday. He'll remain out against Toronto and Saturday in Montreal but is set for a full practice Monday, at which point he'll be considered day to day.

Zibanejad said his conditioning level is good and he has a target return date in mind, "but we'll see how that goes."

Marc Staal, who was held out the final two games before the bye with concussion symptoms, is in concussion protocol, Vigneault said, and will remain out on Friday. Vigneault said Staal is "feeling a little bit better," but he did not practice Thursday.

Staal has had two recorded concussions, the first of which came when he was hit hard by his brother Eric on Feb. 22, 2011. Staal played through symptoms later that season and it ultimately cost him the first 37 games of the 2011-12 season. He missed 10 games in December of 2013 after his second
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