After a tumultuous opening this season, the New York Rangers might finally be in the clear.
Star forward Rick Nash has been fully cleared to play and will return to the lineup against the Boston Bruins on Tuesday night, the team confirmed after morning skate. Nash has missed 17 games after sustaining a concussion against the San Jose Sharks on Oct. 8, the second such instance over an eight month period. The first concussion came against the Bruins after he was hit by Milan Lucic.
Nash resumed skating nearly a month after sustaining his most recent concussion. By most accounts, the forward is fairly close to game shape and had expressed a desire to return sometime this week. It remains to be seen how Nash will be used in his first game back, but Rangers writer Joe Fortunato believes expectations should be tempered for the returning forward, via Blueshirt Banter:
After seeing back-to-back one-goal games (one win and one loss), it's normal to be excited that Nash is back. Hell, it's normal to even hope that he comes back and makes a difference. But you shouldn't be expecting it. Nash hasn't played in a competitive game since the Rangers got blasted by the San Jose Sharks back in the beginning of the year. He's been skating, yes, but to expect him to be "game ready" right away is a stretch.
The return of Nash caps a disastrous opening for the Rangers, which included a nine-game road trip and injuries to Carl Hagelin, Henrik Lundqvist and Ryan Callahan. Fortunately, the road trip is over, the injuries have been weathered and the team's best offensive player is back in the lineup.
Considering the competition level in the Metropolitan Division -- and the Eastern Conference as a whole -- things could be looking up for the Rangers.