Rangers' Brian Boyle practices
Boyle said he was unsure whether he will be available for Saturday's match at Madison Square Garden, but the 6-foot-6 center did return to practice for the first time Friday since suffering a concussion in Game 5 of the Rangers' first-round series against the Senators.
"This is my first day on the ice. I felt pretty good, but we'll see," Boyle said. "It's all how you react when you take another step, so I have no idea."
Boyle suffered the concussion -- his first ever -- on a hit from Ottawa's Chris Neil last Saturday at MSG and has not played since. He said he felt "a little foggy" in the days that followed the injury and is now trying to simply follow the protocol before returning to game action.
"It was new to me, (I) just had to do nothing," he said. "There's a lot going on with our team so that was tough to do, but it's beneficial."
Coach John Tortorella said "no update" when asked about Boyle's status for Saturday. He offered the same response when asked about fellow injured forward Brandon Dubinsky, who appeared to suffer a lower-body in the third period of Thursday's game. Dubinsky didn't practice Friday.
Should both players be unavailable, the Rangers would likely use Steve Eminger as a seventh defenseman.
Boyle, who was the series' first-half MVP with three goals in the first three games, said he could hardly bear to watch the team's pivotal Game 7. He spent the entire third period of the series finale in the weight room avoiding the television; instead, he relied on updates from teammates while staring down the clock.
"It was one of the worst things ever," he said.
Boyle did not care to discuss Neil's hit that forced him from the game -- one that an incensed Tortorella likened to Phoenix's Raffi Torres' brutal blow on Chicago's Marian Hossa in the first round that earned Torres a 25-game suspension. Neil, who was not penalized during the game, avoided any supplementary discipline for the hit.
"I haven't seen it," Boyle said. "And I'm probably not going to look at it."
He was heartened, however, by the response he received from his teammates both on and off the ice following the incident.
Good friend and tough guy Brandon Prust admitted that his first-period fight with Neil in Game 6 was "maybe a little bit" motivated by the hit. Defenseman Michael Del Zotto also levied a serious blow against the Sens' antagonist in Game 6.
"That means a lot to me. The teammate thing and the whole code and all that, that's great. But the whole friendship thing ... They were texting me and it felt really good," Boyle said. "I felt blessed and loved and everything you can say. That was pretty awesome."
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