First, he was on the ice, so that was a start.
Second, Stepan was wearing facial protection, giving him ample time to get to used to playing with the Super Shredder look.
But Alain Vigneault pumped the brakes on the notion that Stepan, who broke his jaw in Game 3, would re-enter the lineup in Game 5 as the Rangers attempt to eliminate the Montreal Canadiens and advance to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 1994.
“There are a lot of things that have to happen for him to play tonight,” he said. “We are going to talk to him this afternoon and see how he reacted to the practice. Nutrition, obviously, is an issue at this time, so later on today we'll talk to our doctors and we'll talk to him and we'll see how it works out.”
Stepan has been on a soft-food diet since the injury, meaning lots and lots of meals through a straw.
Vigneault added that the decision on whether Stepan plays will solely be up to the team’s doctors. Part of the process to determine if he’s good to go was participating in Tuesday's morning skate and seeing how he reacts to it later in the afternoon.
Oscar Lindberg and Jesper Fast are the extra forwards should Stepan not play Tuesday night. J.T. Miller did not join the Rangers in Montreal after suffering an upper-body injury in Game 4.
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