Desperate for a victory, the Rangers are turning to their captain for a shot of adrenaline.
Chris Drury, who has been out since Feb. 5 with a knee injury, will make his return against the Devils on Saturday afternoon. He's been practicing with the team, and coach John Tortorella felt he was ready.
"Dru is Dru. He's been wanting to go for a little bit here," Tortorella said. "I'm not sure exactly how much he'll play. We'll see. He'll take some faceoffs, he'll kill some penalties. He gives us a little bit of juice as far as him coming back. Our captain's back in the lineup. We'll see how it goes as we proceed in the game."
Tortorella, who usually is very forthcoming with line combinations pregame, was more evasive this time when asked who Drury would be playing with.
"Not sure," Tortorella said, before being a bit more honest. "I am sure, but I'm not telling you."
Drury's season has been marred by injuries. He dealt with a broken finger throughout the preseason, then broke that same finger in a different spot in the third game of the season. It cost him 29 games, and he's only played in 23 games this season.
Drury has zero goals and 4 assists, but his presence could be the difference in a game the Rangers are treating as a must-win.
"I think he's well-respected. Dru's not a holler guy in the room. He leads by example," Tortorella said. "I think when you look at him, how hard he's worked at coming back with a chronic knee here, I think that just adds something to your locker room. He's just so well-respected by his teammates. He's been known to make big plays at big times in big games. We'll see where it goes as we start playing the game."
Along with Drury, shootout specialist Mats Zuccarello is back in the lineup after he was sent down to the AHL's Connecticut Whale on April 1. Last season, the Rangers lost their final game of the regular season to the Philadelphia Flyers in a shootout, one that saw Olli Jokinen get stopped by goaltender Brian Boucher to end it.
Zuccarello is 5-for-9 in shootouts this season.
Coming out of the lineup are defenseman Steve Eminger and forward Sean Avery. Defenseman Matt Gilroy, who played at right wing against the Thrashers on Thursday, will drop back to the blue line and play with Bryan McCabe.
"Let me make sure you understand -- Emmy has given us some really good minutes," Tortorella said. "I thought he stepped in really nice (vs. Boston) when (Ryan) McDonagh was struggling a bit. That was a tough decision.
"But we're hoping maybe to get out of our end zone a little bit quicker with Gilly as far as our first pass and maybe add some offense."
The scenario is simple for the Rangers -- earn more points than the Carolina Hurricanes today. If the Rangers lose in regulation to the Devils, it's all over. If they can at least get a point in an overtime/shootout loss, the Rangers can still get into the playoffs if the Hurricanes lose in regulation to the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight.
Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo