• Pregame Notes
By Jim Cerny, newyorkrangers.com
It was certainly a welcome sight for the Rangers to see injured sniper Marian Gaborik
back on the ice taking part in today’s morning skate at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.
Although Gaborik is not near a return to game action just yet, it was an important next step for him to take part in line rushes and drills with his teammates this morning, as opposed to skating alone as he had been doing recently.
Gaborik suffered a separated shoulder nearly three weeks ago, and today said that he had a date in his mind for which he hoped to return by.
Rangers head coach John Tortorella said that he wouldn’t even focus on a return date for Gaborik until the team’s training staff told the coach that his star forward was healthier and closer to being able to play.
|Rangers sniper and 2009-10 scoring leader Marian Gaborik is getting closer and closer to returning from the shoulder injury he suffered in the home opener. |
Two other injured Rangers took part in off-ice workouts this morning, as Chris Drury and Vinny Prospal continued their respective rehabs.
Drury explained that he actually broke his finger in two different spots back in his season debut on Oct. 15 against the Maple Leafs. The Rangers captain said that he suffered a displaced fracture of the original break he suffered during training camp as well as a new break when he collided with Michal Rozsival in that contest vs. Toronto.
“It’s certainly a frustrating situation to miss three weeks then come back and have it happen again in the second said,” explained Drury. “It’s certainly not an ideal situation, and it’s a pretty fluky thing, but obviously it was in a weakened state to begin with, so I guess it was just bad timing and bad luck.”
Although he has tried not to interfere with his teammates as they have been busy playing games, and preparing to play games, these past three weeks, Drury has taken notice, and is quite impressed, with how the team has come together so far this season.
“I’m around, for sure, and I see the guys all the time, but in my opinion part of an injured guy’s job is to stay out of the way while the other guys are preparing to play,” said Drury. “But I think this team is playing hard and is creating a strong identity for itself. And that doesn’t surprise me. I saw it coming in training camp, and even over the final 20 games or so last season.”
Prospal, who underwent knee surgery two weeks ago and has yet to play in a single game this season due to his knee woes, is not yet near a return to the ice. But being on this road trip and being around his teammates has raised Prospal’s spirits quite a bit.
“I’m happy to be around the guys,” said Prospal, the Rangers’ second leading scorer a year ago. “It gets lonely up at the training center.”Gilroy, White scratched for tonight's game
Defenseman Matt Gilroy and forward Todd White will be the healthy scratches for the Rangers tonight, meaning that Mike Sauer will play a second straight game on the blueline and 20-year-old rookie Evgeny Grachev will play his fourth consecutive contest.
|Evgeny Grachev |
“If we are going to build this team the right way, it’s going to be done with our kids and you have to give them an opportunity,” Tortorella said of Grachev’s inclusion in the lineup again tonight. “We’ll evaluate the process as we go along here, but you have to give him an opportunity, and that’s what we are trying to do with Grachev.”
The hulking Russian forward has played limited minutes exclusively on the fourth line over his first three games, and is scoreless to date, although he had a pair of excellent scoring chances on Monday night against the Blackhawks.
While the head coach considers Grachev a work in progress, Tortorella is very pleased with many aspects of the youngster’s game, as well.
“He hasn’t gotten a whole lot of ice-time, but I think he has skated well,” said Tortorella. “He has done some good things on the forecheck, and at times he has done some really good things protecting the puck. We want to keep on coaching him, and we want to keep giving him an opportunity.”