GREENBURGH, N.Y. — Two players in yellow jerseys skated among the guys in the white shirts and the navy shirts on the MSG Training Center ice — yellow as in “caution, do not touch.” But it also meant that help for the struggling Rangers could be a little closer to coming.
Defenseman Kevin Klein and center Derek Stepan returned Monday for their first practice with the team since being injured in late November. But defenseman Dan Girardi and center/wing Jarret Stoll weren’t out there with them.
It was a busy news day for the Rangers after their 0-2-1 Western Canada swing.
Klein, coming back from a strained oblique, and Stepan, who is sidelined with two broken ribs, will not play against Edmonton tonight at the Garden. Coach Alain Vigneault said they are day-to-day. He also said Girardi will miss the game with swelling in his knee and is day-to-day. And Stoll, the fourth-liner/penalty-killer, was waived. If he clears, he could be sent to Hartford or released. The move will open some cap space.
“After trying different scenarios, we just felt our best option was playing Dom in the middle,” Vigneault said. “When we came to that conclusion, Jarret on the wing hasn’t been an easy transition for him. So . . . we figured that Jarret is a two-time Stanley Cup winner; by putting him on waivers, maybe a team picks him up and gives him another opportunity.”
Girardi, who has been struggling, started having problems with the knee after blocking a shot in the 2-1 loss at Vancouver last Wednesday, according to Vigneault. Girardi played in the 7-5 loss at Edmonton on Friday and the 5-4 overtime loss at Calgary on Saturday. Vigneault said he wasn’t sure how long Girardi will be out. A defenseman will be summoned from Hartford.
Klein and Stepan might take part in the morning skate Tuesday. Vigneault said he will have a better idea after Wednesday’s practice if they will travel for the games Thursday at Minnesota and Friday at Winnipeg. When Klein was injured on Nov. 30, it was listed as a two-to-three-week injury.
“I think it’s pretty close,” Klein said. “ . . . I went almost 100 percent out there.”
Stepan got hurt three days earlier when it was listed as a four-to-six-week injury.
“I’m feeling good,” Stepan said. “ . . . We’ll see how it reacts. I don’t know if we have a schedule quite yet.”
The Rangers are on a 2-6-2 slide, but Vigneault gave it a positive spin: “I do believe our record in the last 10 games, we’re playing better than our record indicates, where prior we weren’t playing as well, but our record was real good. So I do believe we’re on the right track.”