As Traverse City inches closer -- real hockey here we come! -- the Rangers took part in an official informal skate for the first time this summer. It was the first look at a lot of players but all eyes seemed to be on Mats Zuccarello who returns to the ice after a really, really scary head injury he suffered in Game 5 of the Rangers First Round series against the Penguins.
He spoke to the media and confirmed the expected good news that he was ready to go:
Zuccarello said he concluded his speech therapy sessions during the summer - adding that his Norwegian is fine but his difficulties sometimes show up in his English - and he is wearing a more heavily-padded helmet.
"The injury," he said, "is no issue."
Zuccarello said he doesn't plan to change his game, but that doesn't mean there's no concern.
"Hopefully not," he said about altering his aggressive, involved style. "I'm as good as new, as the doctors say, so just go in and play my game.
Zuccarello had taken part in a few scrimmages this summer, although they were all for charity and didn't exactly demand much more ability than being able to skate forwards, but it's still good to see him on the ice. As we move forward it will be easier to keep an eye on him but him being able to work hard and push himself with no lasting damage is a really good sign.
In other news the Rangers added goaltending prospect Taylor Dupuis to their Traverse City roster. Dupuis played with the Sarnia Sting last year posting a 3.38 GAA in 44 appearances. At 21 years of age he's a little on the older side but goaltenders are a different animal so age isn't really a factor.
The Rangers have taken some pretty significant strides to improve the position the past few years so this move is a little interesting but there is literally no risk associated with it so let's see where it goes.