The injury-riddled New York Rangers
took another hit Wednesday when coach John Tortorella told reporters captain Chris Drury
will be out six weeks with a left knee injury that will require surgery.
This is the third major health issue for Drury this season. The 34-year-old suffered a broken finger before the season, and then broke the same finger in a different spot in his season debut Oct. 15 against the Toronto Maple Leafs
That injury in the third game of the season caused Drury to miss another 29 games. He struggled to find consistency after returning to the lineup Dec. 15, recording just 4 assists in 22 games. The center hasn't scored a goal in 23 games this season and has been out of the lineup since Feb. 3.
Overcoming injuries to forwards is nothing new for the Rangers. Besides Drury, they've gone long stretches without Marian Gaborik
, Brandon Dubinsky
, Ryan Callahan
, Ruslan Fedotenko
, Vinny Prospal
, Erik Christensen
and Derek Boogaard
. Left wing Alex Frolov
is out for the season with a knee injury.
Of that group, only Fedotenko and Boogaard are currently out of the lineup. Fedotenko is out three weeks after undergoing an appendectomy and Boogaard is out indefinitely with shoulder and concussion problems.
The Rangers have leaned on role players and rookies to fill the void all season and it's worked for the most part. Brian Boyle
has a career-high 18 goals in 56 games and tough guy Brandon Prust
has a career-high 8 goals. First-year players Derek Stepan
(15 goals, 16 assists) and Mats Zuccarello
(13 points in 21 games, 4 shootout goals) have also made major contributions.
Drury's latest injury comes when the Rangers have lost five straight games, four in regulation. The Rangers are in seventh place in the Eastern Conference with 62 points, three more than eighth-place Carolina.
The Rangers have a showdown Friday with the ninth-place Atlanta Thrashers
, who have 58 points, at Philips Arena.
Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo