Chris Pronger skated for the third time on Friday, by himself, as he recovers from a right eye injury.
All signs seem to point toward Pronger playing either next week in Tampa Bay or next weekend in Florida.
For his part, Captain Warmth, who wore a visor on the ice, said he was withholding comment until Saturday.
He wont play Saturday against Columbus, general manager Paul Holmgren said. Hell take part in the morning skate. He needs some practice time with the team before he comes back, but hes getting closer.
Well see how he does over the next few days, Holmgren replied. Chris has been around the block a few times. Im sure hell feel more comfortable once he gets some practice time in.
Pronger appears on schedule. Hes missed five games and was expected to miss perhaps six. Holmgren said Prongers vision was 2020. He said its not a matter of being medically cleared to play, but getting Pronger comfortable to play with his teammates.
Hell play when he is ready to play; it has nothing to do with him being medically cleared. Everything is fine. His eye is healed up. His vision is back to normal. With him, its more about getting some practice time.
"I mean, its always good to get him back on the ice," coach Peter Laviolette said. "You go through a process where you heal, you start to train a little bit, you go out on the ice your own, you go out with your teammates and youre eventually get cleared for games. Im not sure when that will be. Its nice take the first step."
Holmgren said there was a chance that James van Riemsdyk, who did not participate in Friday's optional skate, would play against Columbus.
He incurred a knee injury against Buffalo, but Holmgren indicated a previous injury has crept into the picture and is keeping him out of the lineup.
I dont think it had anything to do with a hit last game; Its just something that was nagging, Holmgren said.
JVR has had groin issues in the past.
One report suggested he was benched by coach Peter Laviolette, who said that was poor reporting. Rarely is a benched player allowed to participate in a warm-up.
JVR, who had three goals in his previous three games, took warm-up against New Jersey but was the first player off the ice. Laviolette had to change two of lines from warm-up.
Holmgren said Matt Read, who has an upper body injury, remains 5050 for Columbus, but has a better chance of playing next week in Tampa Bay.E-mail Tim Panaccio at email@example.com