Ryan Strome, Kaapo Kakko return to practice for Rangers

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Ryan Strome joined the Rangers for practice on Sunday for the first time since he entered COVID-19 protocol before the team left for its just-completed four-game road trip.

The 28-year-old center had to clear isolation protocol in order to practice. He still needs to be given the green light to play against the Flames on Monday night at Madison Square Garden as per the NHL’s COVID-19 protocols. Even without confirmation that he can play, Strome slotted right back into his usual second-line center spot next to Artemi Panarin and returned to the first power-play unit in practice at the MSG Training Facility.

Kaapo Kakko has been skating by himself the last couple days as he recovers from an undisclosed upper-body injury that put him on injured reserve after the Rangers’ win at Montreal. The Finnish winger was in a blue non-contact jersey Sunday and took line rushes with players who are expected to be scratched.

Head coach Gerard Gallant wouldn’t confirm whether Strome or Kakko will play Monday, but he said both “have a chance.”

 									kaapo kakko								,  									new york rangers								,  									ryan strome

Ryan Strome and Kappo Kakko

USA Today Sports, Robert Sabo

Judging by the line rushes, however, it’s more likely Strome will play, while Kakko remains out a bit longer.

“We’ll know more [Monday],” Gallant said. “With protocols and all that, and [Kakko being] day-to-day, I can’t say if they’ll play yet for sure or not. There’s a chance for both of them.”

It’s clear Gallant prefers to spread the offensive wealth, considering he bumped Panarin from the top line as soon as Strome was back on the ice. Without Kakko, who skated next to Morgan Barron and Greg McKegg, Barclay Goodrow took the right-wing spot on that second unit.

Additionally, the top line of Alexis Lafreniere, Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider was reunited.

“Injuries happen, you’ve got to mix and match your lines,” Gallant said. “You’d like to put Panarin with some top players and I think he feels really comfortable playing with Stromer, so. We’ll see what happens once the medical guy tells me they’re cleared, if they tell me that.”


The Rangers went 4-0-0 on their first road trip of the season, marking the first time the club was perfect on a trip of four or more games since February 2015. Additionally, the Rangers garnered the most points (8) through their first five road games since the 2010-11 season.


Following Monday’s matchup against Calgary, the Blueshirts will take on the Blue Jackets at the Garden on Friday. The Rangers will then embark on another four-game trip, which will begin with their first-ever game against the NHL’s 32nd franchise, the Seattle Kraken, before they head to Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary.

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