Today’s post-practice skating club included scratched players Andrei Loktionov and Slava Voynov, plus injured players Willie Mitchell and Mike Richards. Afterward, Mitchell, who is out with a groin injury, said he expects to play Monday in Toronto. For Richards, it was the most he had been pushed since taking a blow to the head in the Dec. 1 game against Florida. He was on the ice for a solid hour, and hasn’t been cleared for contact yet — so there’s no timetable for a return — but afterward he talked about his recovery and how he’s feeling…
RICHARDS: “Better. It’s a slow process. You can only go on how you feel, and there’s never a timeline, which I think is the most frustrating part of it. Whenever you feel ready to play, you play.’’
Question: Are you still feelings any symptoms?
RICHARDS: “Yeah, a little bit. It’s hard to distinguish, though, whether it’s taking two weeks off and then going out there and skating, or whether it’s lingering effects. We’re going to take it slow. We’re going to skate a couple times and see how I feel after that. I obviously hope to be back sooner than later.’’
Question: But just to be here, around the team, must be nice…
RICHARDS: “It’s nice to be around the team. You never like being away from them. I’ve been at home, clearing my head a bit for a couple days and getting some rest and kind of trying to regroup a little bit, and come out here to meet the team. To be around, it could be nothing but good for me.’’
And here’s what Mitchell had to say about his recovery, and when he might return to game action.
MITCHELL: “Next game, barring anything crazy happening. I think we’re trying to be smart about it this time. Not that we weren’t smart last time. I think it was just maybe because I played some tough minutes in that game against Dallas, and a lot of it was penalty-kill minutes, so you get a little more tired on penalty-kill minutes. So it probably wasn’t strong enough at that point in time, and it started to get weak and worse and worse and worse. This time, we’re trying to be a little more sure. I probably, if it was the playoffs, get in there tonight, but we’re going to wait one more, just to make sure it doesn’t come back and we’re done with this. But I’ve had a couple good skates. I skated yesterday and felt good. Those skates are never fun, but I felt fine doing that. I’ll have a skate tomorrow and get after it.’’