New York Rangers forward Brian Boyle returned to practice on Friday — the first time he’s skated with teammates since suffering a concussion on Apr. 21 — and is hopeful to return to the lineup in time for Saturday’s second round series opener against the Capitals.
“This is my first day on the ice. I felt pretty good, but we’ll see,” Boyle told ESPN New York. “It’s all how you react when you take another step, so I have no idea.”
Boyle’s next step is to continue with concussion protocol. He had been riding the stationary bike for the last two days and said Friday was the first time he’d “pushed hard” on the ice, so it’s likely he and the Rangers will take a wait-and-see approach, especially regarding potential setbacks.
“It was new to me,” Boyle said of missing Games 6/7 and not being able to practice. “I just had to do nothing, and there’s a lot going on right now with our team, so that was tough to do, but it’s beneficial.
“I was just a little foggy…then just started progressing, riding the bike.”
The Rangers would love to have the big-bodied Boyle (6-foot-7, 244 pounds) back in the lineup to face Washington. He was highly effective against Ottawa, scoring three goals in the first three games and drawing the ire of a number of Senators. That included Chris Neil, who both fought Boyle and threw the hit that concussed him.
In speaking about the hit, Boyle expressed gratitude towards teammate Brandon Prust, who fought Neil in Game 6 as a response.
“It means a lot to me,” Boyle told Blueshirts United. “The whole teammate thing, and the code, is great, but the friendship thing is bigger.
“It meant a lot to me, and I felt blessed and loved. That was pretty awesome.”