Rangers could get Fast, Staal, Raanta back for game against Blue Jackets

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It’s been a nice couple of days for the New York Rangers.

On Monday night, a report surfaced saying that they had agreed to terms with head coach Alain Vigneault on a two-year contract extension. Tonight, it looks like they’ll get some healthy bodies back into their lineup when they take on the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Marc Staal and Jesper Fast have missed nine and four games respectively because of upper-body injuries, but it sounds like they’re healthy enough to go tonight. They both practiced on Monday, and if they respond well this morning, they’d be able to play.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that on our team, his experience, his leadership, the way he plays – he’s a very good defender,” Vigneault said of Staal, per the Rangers’ website. “He gives us the capabilities of having two pretty good duos as far as defending against the opposition’s top line. If he’s good to go tomorrow, which I expect, we’ll be happy to have him back.”

He’s expected to skate on a pairing with Nick Holden.

As for Fast, he didn’t get to enjoy the All-Star break in the way he would have liked, but he used his time wisely so that he could get back into the lineup sooner.

“Yea, I was here and did some treatments and stuff to get ready for the next game,” he said after Monday’s practice. “It wasn’t the most fun, but it was important to be here and get ready.”

New York had won three in a row when they suffered a 2-0 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers in their last game before the break.

Also, the Rangers sent Magnus Hellberg to the minors before the break, which means goalie Antti Raanta should suit up as Henrik Lundqvist‘s backup tonight. Raanta exited a Jan. 14 game against the Canadiens after the first period because of a lower-body injury.

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