Ryan Lindgren sat out the Rangers’ final game before the All-Star break, a road win over the Senators, after suffering an undisclosed upper-body injury the previous night against the Golden Knights at the Garden.
Collectively, the Rangers certainly needed the week off as a reset after going 12-12-2 over the 26 games following a scorching start.
But none needed a reset more than Lindgren, who coach Peter Laviolette expects to be “ready to go” and back on his top defensive unit Monday night to face the Central Division-leading Avalanche at MSG.
“It kind of gave me, with the break here, a few days to heal and rest up, and I’m feeling good now,” Lindgren said after the Rangers reconvened for practice Sunday in Tarrytown. “I wasn’t able to make it out there [last Saturday at Ottawa], and if I could have played, I would have played. I just couldn’t do it.
“Having the week off, I don’t know when I would have played, but it came at a good time.”
With the Blueshirts sporting a pedestrian record for six weeks following an 18-4-1 breakout to open the season, Laviolette had split up Lindgren and Adam Fox on the top defensive pair for their 5-2 loss to Las Vegas on Jan. 22.
Lindgren was shifted to a duo alongside Braden Schneider, but he left the game in the first period with the injury and did not return.
Lindgren, who spent the break at home in Minnesota, and Fox were reunited for practice Sunday.
Captain Jacob Trouba is slated to serve the last of a two-game suspension Monday night against Colorado (32-14-3) for elbowing Golden Knights forward Pavel Dorofeyev.
“He’s ready to go. I feel it’s a good spot,” Laviolette said of Lindgren. “Anybody that has something nagging going on, I feel like it’s a good spot to get away from it. But we knew it wasn’t long-term, so it’s good to have him back out there.”
The same could be said for the rest of his first-place team, which Laviolette thought looked energized during a 60-minute afternoon practice, after being rejoined by their All-Star representatives Igor Shesterkin and Vincent Trocheck.
Laviolette also served as a coach during the NHL showcase event this weekend in Toronto.
“Well, we’re 1-0. We won our last game, so we’re 1-0 and we’re on a roll right now,” Laviolette joked about last weekend’s 7-2 win over the Senators. “There are separations, whether you like it or not. You catch a break, the New Year, the start of a season, the start of the playoffs, there are these breaks where you get a chance to reset.
“And I do feel like this is one of those times where your team is back, it was a really good practice [Sunday], you can see that there was a ton of energy out there. The guys practiced well. And I think that’s just from being away for a little bit and they come back and they’re charged and they’re ready to go. But our opponent will be the same way, so we do have to get off to a good start and try to build some success here in the month of February.”
With barely two months (33 games) left in the regular season, the Rangers’ lead in the Metropolitan Division is down to two points over the Hurricanes, who have one game in hand.
“Obviously the whole month of January, we didn’t play up to the standard that we wanted to,” the 25-year-old Lindgren said. “We finished on a high note up there against Ottawa, but it was a good week to kind of reset it, and get back at it here in February and get back to the kind of hockey that we know we can play.”