After practicing with his teammates for the first time since a vascular injury to his neck on a deflected shot, Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist said Tuesday he expects to play this week.

"That's my goal," said Lundqvist, who last played on Feb. 2 against the Panthers. "I need at least one or two more skates to work on my timing, I feel close. If you ask me, I wanted to play last week ... I'm expecting to play this week, what day, I'm not sure."

Lundqvist, who was injured on Jan. 31, handled shots for close to an hour at Madison Square Garden before the Rangers face the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday night. Cam Talbot will start in goal for the Rangers.

The next game is Thursday in Ottawa, and coach Alain Vigneault said it "would be a stretch" to say Lundqvist will be in goal. The Blueshirts play back-to-back on the weekend, in Boston and then home against the Capitals.

"Some guys seemed a little scared [to shoot high]," Lundqvist said in the locker room afterward. "They can go high and hard. Each practice, I feel more and more comfortable. The first practice I had with coaches shooting, I was a little uncomfortable. I feel like I'm pretty close to being ready."

Lundqvist, 33, said that with the last four weeks of conditioning, "physically, I feel really good. At this time of year, I'm probably in better shape than in a long time. I would say 85 percent [of goaltending] is mental, that's something in the next week I'm going to work on.

"I just wanted to work really hard and get extremely tired," Lundqvist added. I" feel like my speed is there, my legs are there, it's more just mental, just playing goal, to have your focus right ... I think I'm not going to feel perfect before the first game, you have to go out there and play and work your way back. I feel like I'm really close [on conditioning] this week, we have just one or two practices, I'll do what I can to be in the right position in different situations."