Mika Zibanejad‘s status for the season opener is unclear after the New York Rangers center participated in a full practice Monday for the first time since testing positive for COVID-19 prior to training camp.
“I was out for a certain amount of days going through and sticking to protocol,” Zibanejad said. “I’ve been skating on my own and now first real skate with the team. It felt good.”
Zibanejad, who led the Rangers by scoring 41 goals in 57 games last season, remains day to day. He also took part in an abbreviated morning skate Sunday but did not play in the intrasquad scrimmage at night. The Rangers have not confirmed that he will be in the lineup when they play the New York Islanders at Madison Square Garden on Thursday.
The Rangers are off Tuesday and scheduled to practice for the final time in camp Wednesday.
“I feel good now, I felt good in practice,” Zibanejad said. “I’ve been feeling pretty good for a certain amount of days now. We’ve been taking this day by day and following the protocol and listening to the (doctors) and everyone. We’ll take it day by day. I don’t know exactly what happens for Thursday but felt good today and we’ll see how things are [Tuesday] and we’ll just go from there.”
Zibanejad will be on the top line with left wing Chris Kreider and right wing Pavel Buchnevich if he’s able to play Thursday.
“This is really a day-to-day situation, you just don’t know how you’re going to respond,” Rangers coach David Quinn said. “The good news is he’s gotten better and better over the last four or five days once he was able to start some light activity. We’re not sure what’s going to happen tomorrow. We’re not sure what’s going to happen Wednesday or Thursday but talking to him after practice I think he felt pretty good about where he was at and how he felt.”
Zibanejad led the NHL with 24 goals and 40 points in 25 games from Jan. 15 to the end of the 2019-20 regular season.