Alain Vigneault wasn’t willing to say Henrik Lundqvist is ahead of schedule in returning from his hip injury suffered March 7 against the Panthers, but the Rangers’ franchise goalie could be back sooner than expected.

The coach said Lundqvist skated Wednesday and Thursday, and will skate with the team Friday morning before its Garden match against the Panthers. He will stay behind and work with goaltending coach Benoit Allaire while the team goes to Minnesota for the second leg of the back-to-back Saturday night, but he will keep up with the on-ice work every day until he either needs a rest or is ready to play.

“Henrik is feeling a lot better,” Vigneault said after Thursday’s practice. “He’s going through the on-ice process right now with Ben. That’s a very important position so we have to make sure that he’s 100 percent.”

The original timeline of two-to-three weeks put Lundqvist’s possible return during the team’s three-game trip to California starting March 25 in Los Angeles. But now he might be ready sooner.

“Originally that was our mindset, that we were thinking he should be ready for that, and we haven’t changed,” Vigneault said. “But I am saying that to you that he is feeling better, so we’ll see how things move forward here.”