The Rangers got one defenseman back from COVID-19 protocols on Monday but added another to break even.
Patrik Nemeth, who previously tested positive for the virus, cleared protocols and returned to practice while Jarred Tinordi entered protocols, joining Ryan Lindgren and Alexandar Georgiev.
“[I’m feeling] better,” Nemeth said Monday after practice. “I should be fine, good to go.”
Nemeth entered COVID-19 protocols on Dec. 18, a day after playing 12:45 against the Golden Knights. He said he was able to skate once or twice before Monday just to begin getting his legs underneath him again.
“You’re not allowed to do much,” he said. “Going out for walks, but you’re basically staying home and on the days when you feel pretty good, you try to get a small workout in. Then as we got closer to 10 days, started training a bit more and see where you’re at.”
Nemeth, 29, said he had some cold-like symptoms the first two or three days before they dissipated. He didn’t feel any lingering effects Monday, other than regular rust, in his first practice back ahead of Wednesday’s game against the Panthers.
“It’s obviously a little rusty when you get back after 10 days,” Nemeth said. “Even if I didn’t have anything, if I was just sitting home for 10 days, it would be the same. It would be rough. I had one practice today, I’ll have practice [Tuesday] and then we’ll just go from there and see.”
With Lindgren and Tinordi out on the blue line, Nemeth’s return gives the Rangers six healthy defensemen, joining Jacob Trouba, K’Andre Miller, Adam Fox, Libor Hajek and Nils Lundkvist.
The Rangers were originally scheduled to return to game action Monday night against the Red Wings before the NHL delayed its return to play by a day. Combined with COVID-19-related postponements before the holiday hiatus, the Rangers will have gone 11 days without a game before playing again Wednesday.
Still, coach Gerard Gallant was pleased with how his team looked in Monday’s practice and “the way they were jumping.”
“They’ve really taken charge,” Gallant said. “We get off the ice, we thought we had a good practice and I see eight guys skating by themselves right now doing line work. They want to be ready to get back when we’re ready to go.
“It’s been tough on them mentally, thinking about, ‘When are we going to play?’ Our last two games have been canceled. But I think we’ve been off 10 or 11 days now and you’re ready to play another game again. Guys had a good break, Christmas was fun, but hopefully we’re able to play in the near future here. Wednesday, hopefully.”
The Rangers recalled goalie Keith Kinkaid from AHL Hartford on Monday with Georgiev in COVID-19 protocols.
The Rangers are also expected to recall a defenseman from the Wolf Pack after the results from Tuesday’s COVID-19 testing in Hartford come back.