It was like a huge sigh of relief could be heard coming from the Rangers organization when it found out Monday that Brett Howden wasn’t seriously hurt.
The 20-year-old center had been in a dangerous collision during the team’s 3-1 win over the Sabres on Sunday night at the Garden, getting tangled up before going full-speed and face-first into the backboards. He did not return for “precaution,” the same reason he didn’t practice on Monday.
But Howden strolled into the locker room anyway, saying he felt pretty good after what could have been a very bad situation.
“I feel good to be here, just kind of taking it day by day,” Howden said. “All the guys were asking me what it was because it could have been multiple things. I’m really lucky that it’s nothing serious. It was kind of just an awkward play.”
It seems very unlikely Howden will play in Tuesday’s Garden match against the Canadiens after the club called up Lias Andersson from AHL Hartford. Coach David Quinn wasn’t going to push Howden back into the lineup after he had become one of his best players through his first 14 games in the league.
“We certainly will err on the side of caution,” Quinn said, “as opposed to be aggressive and throwing him out there.”
Goalie Henrik Lundqvist said he felt “pretty good” the day after he took an awkward hit to the head/neck from fellow Swede Rasmus Dahlin on Sunday night. Despite dealing with some neck issues earlier in the season, Lundqvist practiced and doesn’t anticipate any setback.
“Probably do some treatments today, loosen up the neck, and then good to go,” he said. “My neck, I feel like it gets twisted to different sides every time. But I think it’s the one part of your body that’s pretty exposed as a goalie, with the stance you have. It’s going to happen. It always happens every year. But it’s fine.”
Defenseman Adam McQuaid was put on IR to make room for Andersson. McQuaid has been out since he suffered a lower-body injury on Oct. 25, and he is considered “week-to-week.”
Veteran defenseman Fredrick Claesson practiced with a regular jersey for the first time since he went down with an upper-body injury on Oct. 17. Quinn said the lefty shot, able to play both sides, was not quite ready to return to the lineup.
Center Boo Nieves practiced in a regular jersey for the second straight day as he recovers from the concussion suffered in the first preseason game Sept. 17. He isn’t ready to return yet, either.