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Drury returning for home opener

by Staff Writer / New York Rangers
Rangers captain Chris Drury will be back in the lineup for the 2010-11 home-opener against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Friday night, although his linemates for the game have yet to be determined.

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When the Rangers play their home opener on Friday night against the Maple Leafs at Madison Square Garden, there will be a very welcome addition to the Blueshirts lineup.

Team captain Chris Drury, who has been sidelined since the first week of training camp with a broken left index finger, will suit up and take part in his first game action of the 2010-11 season.

After practice on Wednesday at the MSG Training Center, Drury said he felt 100 percent and was ready to play on Friday, but head coach John Tortorella took things a step further by emphatically stating, “Chris will play on Friday.”

Those were words that Drury had been aching to hear, especially since he resumed skating with his teammates last Saturday in Buffalo.

“No one likes to miss games, and you don’t like to start the season in the stands,” said Drury. “Certainly it’s been something new to me, but overall I feel pretty good and am excited to get going.”

Drury, who skated in between wingers Marian Gaborik and Alexander Frolov on the Rangers No. 1 line at practice on Wednesday, reported afterwards that there is not anything he is unable to do because of his finger.

As a precaution he will be wearing new gloves that have extra padding in and around the hand area, but other than that, Drury expects to be able to play his usual game come Friday.

“It’s healed, though I guess it’s always going to be a little bit sore as we go through here, but that’s fine” Drury said of his finger. “I can do just about anything, so I am ready to go.”

As to where Drury will be put in the lineup on Friday, neither the captain nor the head coach is exactly sure just yet. Tortorella said that he does not want to break up his second and third lines, which have both played very well, so far, though a spot on the top line might be available because Erik Christensen, who centered that unit the first two games of the season before being hurt on Monday against the Islanders, missed practice on Wednesday with a sore right leg.

The head coach said that he’d have to see if Christensen could practice Thursday before making any final lineup decisions.

“Everyone would love to play with them,” Drury said of skating with Gaborik and Frolov. “But with Christensen being out today someone had to fill-in so I was glad to do it. We’ll see what happens day to day and whatever is presented to me I’ll be ready to do it. Whatever Torts asks of me I will try to do it the best that I can.”

Christensen explained that he was hurt early in the third period on Monday when he pushed off with his right leg, looking to make a break up the ice. He said that the injury felt better on Wednesday, especially after receiving treatment. However, he is unsure how if he will be able to practice Thursday or play Friday.

“I never had an injury like this before so I don’t really know what to expect or even what it is,” said Christensen, who has one goal in two games. “It’s more like a tenderness (than pain). I felt a tug, a pull, and thought ‘Uh oh, what did I do?’ But (Wednesday) it feels a lot better than a few days ago.”

Depending upon Christensen’s health and ability to play or not, Drury’s return could make for a very difficult lineup decision for Tortorella on Friday.

“Obviously we have to make some decisions here,” said Tortorella. “Chris is going to play. So I have to make some decisions along the way, and we’ll make those after (Thursday’s) practice.”
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