After Mika Zibanejad missed a large part of the training camp due to a positive COVID-19 test, he will be in the Rangers’ opening line-up against the islanders on Thursday evening.
Head coach David Quinn confirmed that Zibanejad was during his media availability was « good to go » before the game. And despite concerns about the Swedish center’s recovery of the virus, Quinn doesn’t expect to limit his minutes.
Zibanejad said he has felt better every day since contracting the coronavirus just before training camp started.
« I felt good, » he said on a Thursday morning call to Zoom. « Every day that has passed I think it was better. Felt really good on Monday, felt good [Wednesday] and it’s getting better every day. I don’t know exactly what the schedule is. I’m ready to go and I’m just excited. «
It’s been 163 days since the Hurricanes swept the Rangers out of last summer’s postseason qualifying round in the Toronto Bubble.
And during the team is trying to recover from an 11-4 win in three games in a playoff period this season, Quinn doesn’t want any of his players to forget.
« We felt good, like ours regular season ended last season. We certainly didn’t feel good about the way the bubble was going, ”Quinn said on a Zoom call on Wednesday. « As I’ve said many times before, we don’t have to ignore what was going on in the bubble, we have to learn from it. You don’t want to play three games and paint a whole season with it. »
Without preparation games and only a 10 -day training camp in preparation, Quinn encouraged high-intensity exercises and scrimmages. The third-year Rangers coach said he covered almost everything he could do in the allotted time, but added that he liked the team’s « mental and physical commitment » and that they were « dialed in. » Quinn said he believed the effort will be the deciding factor in many games this season while Chris Kreider said it will be of paramount importance that the Rangers get off to a good start. The Rangers know they need to be on their game every day as soon as the puck falls at Madison Square Garden on Thursday night, and they will have the lingering discomfort about how their 2019-20 season ended to remind them « After the playoffs everyone had a very, very bad taste in their mouths about how things ended, » said Kreider. « I think it took a long time and I think our group really itches to play meaningful hockey again. »
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