Chris Kreider was always grateful for the opportunity to play the game he loves for a living. But those feelings are a little fuller following a blood clot that has sidelined him since Dec. 27 and that required surgery to repair.

Early on following the clot's discovery and ultimate remedy, the focus for Kreider went beyond hockey. Injuries are certainly part of the sport, but one as serious as what Kreider was facing put the game on the back-burner.

"It really puts things in perspective," said Kreider after skating with his teammates for the first time on Wednesday in a non-contact practice jersey. "I don't think I took [playing hockey] for granted ever, but it definitely makes you grateful for everything you have."

Kreider said he was born with his first rib fused to his second rib, which pushed everything out of place and led him to having a "wonky looking collar bone my whole life." That abnormality eventually contributed to the clot, which was operated on on Jan. 7.

"I didn't ever think it was going to be a problem," Kreider said, "but obviously it was."

With the injury behind him, Kreider can now look ahead to getting back into the Rangers lineup, something he vowed to do before the end of the season.