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Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Rick Nash back in Rangers' lineup

By Katie Strang
ESPNNewYork.com

NEW YORK -- Forward Rick Nash was in the lineup for the first time since suffering a concussion almost six weeks ago when the New York Rangers played the Boston Bruins on Tuesday night.

The winger, who also missed time with a concussion last season after a nasty hit from Boston's Milan Lucic, had not played since sustaining a head injury in the Rangers' 9-2 loss to the San Jose Sharks on Oct. 8. Nash was forced from that game after being elbowed in the head by defenseman Brad Stuart, who earned a three-game suspension for the hit.

After skating for nine straight days, Nash finally felt ready to give the thumbs-up Tuesday night.

"[I'm] excited," Nash said. "Trying to control the emotion. It's been a long six weeks, so I'm excited to get in there."

Nash was medically cleared Sunday but was physically tested last Thursday. His results, the team said, were better than those he recorded in training camp in September.

Coach Alain Vigneault took that as an encouraging sign, but he still plans to limit Nash's ice time to about 15 minutes -- barring unforeseen changes.

"We'll definitely be talking to him during the game to see how he feels," Vigneault said.

Though the Rangers' lines during the morning skate were not clear, Nash took rushes with Brian Boyle and Carl Hagelin.

Regardless of how much or with whom he plays, Nash's return could provide a major boost to the Rangers' offense, which has managed only three goals in as many games.

Most recently, the Rangers were blanked by Los Angeles Kings on Sunday, 1-0, a defeat that dropped them to .500 (10-10-0) on the season.

Said Vigneault, ".500 hockey is not going to get us into the playoffs. We need to continue to make strides."

Vigneault opted to keep rugged defenseman Justin Falk in the lineup, scratching Michael Del Zotto for the third straight game.

"He has a little bite in his game," Vigneault said of Falk. "Against Boston, that's not a bad thing to have in your lineup."

To make room for Nash's return, J.T. Miller was the team's healthy scratch at forward, though Vigneault indicated he'll have another shot soon as the team embarks on a five-game road trip following Tuesday's match against the Bruins, the team that bounced the Rangers from the playoffs in the second round last spring.

"He's going to play in the near future," Vigneault said of Miller. "Just not tonight."