Thursday March 19th, 2015

New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist says that even though he has been cleared to return to practice following a neck injury, that he is not going to force his return to the ice.

Lundqvist was injured Jan. 31 when he was hit by a shot by Carolina Hurricanes forward Brad Malone. Lundqvist finished the game and played two nights later against the Florida Panthers.

"I'm not going to force it," he said, according to the Associated Press. "It's not about me. It's about what's best for the team. I want to make sure when I go out there, I feel ready and I can make a difference and help the team. Before that, it's better for everybody if I just stay in practice."

The Rangers (44-18-7) have gone 15-4-3 in the 22 games since Lundqvist last played, including a 1-0 home defeat on Wednesday to the Chicago Blackhawks.

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Lundqvist is 25-11-3 with a 2.25 goals-against average and five shutouts this season for New York, who are tied for the Eastern Conference lead with 95 points.

Rangers coach Alain Vigneault did not disclose when Lundqvist might return to playing.

'We're going to have to play this by ear a little bit and talk to Hank,” Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said Wednesday. “Getting shots from quality coaches like he did this morning and getting shots from players in a practice is probably not the same thing.”

- Scooby Axson

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