New York Hockey: Chris Drury

Former Rangers captain Drury retires

August, 19, 2011

One of the most clutch players in sports and one of the NHL's finest ambassadors, Chris Drury, officially retired Friday after 12 years in the league. Drury played the last four years with the Rangers, serving as the team's captain for three years, before being bought out in the offseason. You can read more about Drury's career here and here.

While Drury's tenure in New York didn't live up to expectations, he had a fantastic career that included a Stanley Cup in 2001 with the Colorado Avalanche. He scored 255 goals and 615 assists in his 12 years and seemed to come up big each time he was in the playoffs. His goal in the last game of the season this past year galvanized the Rangers to a victory that ultimately won them a spot in the playoffs.

Several former Rangers teammates had nothing but positive things to say about Drury on Friday. Here are some samplings of what those within the Rangers organization had to say:

Rangers goalie Martin Biron on what stood out about Drury: "His character. Nobody could ever take that away from the person he is and the competitor he is. The way he played on the ice and in the locker room, that's something I think in the sense of how his character was. I think he was born with it. I saw it in the Little League World Series to being a young guy with the Avalanche and stepping up big time, it was not hard to learn that it was in him."

Biron on what he learned from Drury: "A lot of general guidelines. His work ethic, his commitment to the team and the cause was always big, obviously this past season with injuries it was very hard to get a sense of where he was. The few years we played in Buffalo, the turmoil the Sabres were in then with the bankruptcy and all of that when Chris came, he was one of the key components to turning the franchise around, especially on the ice and the mentality of the organization and the locker room. That was on probably the one thing I remember the most, how he was a big part of the turn around in the community and the Sabres definitely benefited from him."

Rangers forward Brandon Dubinsky on Drury's leadership: "I think it's a combination of a lot of things. First and foremost, he just always did things by example. He wasn't overbearing with his voice or anything like that but he always did the right thing, whether it was on the ice or off the ice he always carried himself in the right way and it was just one of those things that he got respect at an early age in our league and then kept building respect through the example he led by. Those types of things are contagious. You see someone that has had so much success in their career and you just want to emulate how they carry themselves and what they do and I think that's what made him a great leader.

"For me in particular, he was always encouraging and always telling me how great of a player I was, even if I was having a bad game or if I was playing great. He was always reminding me of how good of a player I was and how good of a player I could be if I kept pushing and working hard and continuing to get better. He was the always the first guy to let you know how great you were doing and gave you an encouraging word if you needed it. He never had any bad words to say about anybody, it was always a compliment or encouragement. Those are the things that stuck with a lot of guys as well."

Rangers President & GM Glen Sather on Drury: "Throughout his career, Chris Drury was always a great competitor, a tremendous leader and teammate, and the heart and soul type of player that every team would love to have. His commitment, determination and will to win were apparent each and every day. Those characteristics will have a lasting impact on all those who were fortunate enough to learn from Chris over his 12 years in the National Hockey League."
Following the news of the death of Rangers forward Derek Boogaard in his Minneapolis apartment on Friday, many of his former Rangers teammates have expressed their sadness and shock over the loss of one of the league’s toughest enforcers.

"On behalf of all Derek's teammates, I would like to say that he was a great friend and a great teammate and that we are all going miss him dearly,” Rangers captain Chris Drury said in a released statement. “This is a tragic loss for the hockey community. All of our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family.”

Boogaard, who served a role as an enforcer, joined the Rangers for the 2010-11 season after signing with the team on July 1, 2010. He didn’t have much of an effect with the Rangers, scoring just one goal and adding one assist in 22 games. His season was cut short on Dec. 9 after he suffered a concussion against Ottawa.

Rangers forward Brandon Prust said on twitter that he roomed with Boogaard and tweeted just after midnight that Boogaard was a great friend and a teammate and was a loss for words following the 28-year-old’s death.

“I am still in shock. It keeps hitting me off and on all day as I'm driving home. Though he was a fighter on the ice, he was definitely a gentle giant off the ice,” Prust said in a released statement. “He was just a real good guy, a team guy all the way. I've been looking at some of the silly pictures I have from when we were roommates and it just hits me what a good guy he was. I still can't believe I am referring to him in the past tense."

Rangers Right Wing Marian Gaborik, who played with Boogaard for four season in Minnesota and one year in New York, said in the statement that he was very close with Boogaard and the two helped each other out both on and off the ice. He said that Boogaard was one of the best enforcers in the league and any team would have been pleased to have him.

“He was a year younger than me, and you could see that he improved so much,” Gaborik said in a released statement. “But he was always such a calm guy, got along with everybody. We had a lot of good times together. He was a really easy going guy, really caring. We talked pretty much about everything. He’s just the type of guy who would be there for you when you needed him.

He also added in the statement: “We spoke before the World Championships. We were in touch a lot. He was focusing on coming back, training each day. He was really looking forward to coming back in great shape and prove that he’s the best at what he does. He was really looking forward to that. He was always so positive and optimistic”

Several other Rangers showed support for Boogaard's family on twitter. Rangers defenseman Michael Del Zotto tweeted “Boogy, you will be missed! Condolences to the Boogard family. The world lost an amazing friend and teammate!”

Backup goalie Martin Biron, who did not want to comment out of respect for Boogaard and his family when called Saturday morning, said on his twitter account: “Extremely sadden by the loss of a great teammate, Derek Boogaard, we’ll miss you. Praying for his family and friends.”

5 intriguing contract situations for Rangers

April, 26, 2011
With the offseason rapidly ramping up and contract rumors starting to fly, it marks a good time to look at some of the most intriguing deals to be dealt with this summer. Here are the five most interesting in my humble opinion.

5. Brandon Dubinsky, LW, Age 24 - Based on Dubinsky's comments to the Daily News, it sounds like an extension could get done pretty quickly. The fit is good and the desire for both sides to make a deal seems strong. The only hiccup could be if Dubinsky is looking for a megadeal of some kind. I would think he’s not looking to hold up the bank though, especially since he should see a nice raise on his $1.85M salary from this past season anyway.

4. Brian Boyle, C, 26 - Boyle presents a very interesting case as a restricted free agent. He will absolutely get a raise off his $525K contract from a season ago. But how big will that raise be? With 21 goals and 14 assists this season, Boyle produced one of the biggest breakout seasons in the NHL. And while he didn’t put up a point in the Rangers’ playoff series against the Washington Capitals, he was arguably the team’s most consistent forward over the course of the series. Now … were the 21 goals a fluke or something he can reproduce in future seasons? His shooting percentage of 9.6 percent, right around the league average, suggests that he wasn’t just lucky. Couple that with the fact he does most of his work around the opponent’s crease and it seems like 20-goal seasons are not unrealistic expectations, even though Boyle’s previous career best for goals was four.

3. Ryan Callahan, RW, 26 - Callahan has been described many times as the Rangers’ captain in waiting. He plays exactly the style of hockey endorsed by head coach John Tortorella and contributes in all aspects of the game. Players like that are rare and highly coveted in today’s NHL. So, how big a bump will Callahan, a restricted free agent, get from his $2.3M salary of 2010-11? He produced career bests in both goals and assists in just 60 games this season. If I had to guess, I would think that Callahan could see a long-term deal to help keep his cap hit manageable but still get him the bucks he deserves.

2. Derek Boogaard, LW/Penalty Box, 28 - Boogaard won’t be a free agent until 2014-15 ... which is precisely why I’m putting him and his $1.65M per-season deal on this list. Tortorella dressed Boogaard in 22 games during an injury-shortened season that ended after he sustained a concussion on Dec. 9. His recovery from that concussion is still in question. But also, when he's not dropping the gloves his contributions are limited, at best, on the ice. There have been rumors connecting him to the KHL, but it seems very possible the Rangers will try to offload Boogaard in some way, shape or form. I certainly don’t fault Boogaard for signing the deal and taking the money, but Wade Redden and Co. might need to make room for the Boogie Man on the Connecticut Whale team bus. And that could be the best-case scenario for the banged-up brawler.

1. Chris Drury, C, 34 - Faceoffs. Right now, it seems that winning draws is Drury’s biggest on-ice contribution to the Rangers. That’s a rather short list considering the team’s current captain is set to draw a salary of $7.05M next season. Tortorella’s comments Monday seem to indicate that the team will seriously consider buying out Drury’s contract after he battled a string of injuries and averaged about 7:30 of ice time in the playoffs. With a no-movement clause in his contract, Drury won’t face the same fate as Redden, but the Rangers probably value the $3.5M-plus of cap space they can free up by buying him out more than a fourth-line and situational center, the role Drury mainly filled this season.

There’s a perception issue as well though. Will future free agents look at the Rangers’ offers skeptically if the players accepting their lucrative money -- Redden and perhaps Drury and Boogaard -- don’t get to reach the end of their deals in New York? Will they start to demand no-movement clauses -- which have severely hindered the Devils across the Hudson -- limiting the Rangers’ options when it comes to roster management?

So, if you’re the Rangers, do you try to buy out Drury, knowing he’d count just $3.3M against the cap next season and $1.67M against the 2012-13 cap, thereby freeing up space for a high-skill scorer the Blueshirts badly need? Or do you ride it out knowing you have a high character guy to help lead a young roster and hope that he can rebound in the production department as he returns to good health?
During today’s exit meetings, players filed in and out of the locker room, taking time to talk to the media one last time before heading off. was able to catch up with 14 players in that span. Here are the highlights from each player, excluding Marian Gaborik, who has his own blog entry.

• • •

Veteran Chris Drury admits the past season ranks among the most frustrating of his career. He missed 53 games with a broken finger and injured knee, scoring a career-low one goal and just four assists. At the end of the year, he was relegated to one of the bottom lines and played a team-low 5:58 in Game 5.

He heads into the offseason hoping to get back into the same routine to try and get healthy for camp. With one year left on his deal, Drury will be playing for his next contract, but it might not come in a role he’s accustomed to.

“What I’ve said all along and what I believe is whatever role coach sees fit that’s going to help us win games, for me, that’s what I’ll do," Drury said. "That wasn’t just here. That was in other cities as well and other teams. I don’t think that’s going to change, whatever any coach thinks is going to help us win games or whatever he wants me to do in that, I’ll do as best as I can.”

• • •

Veteran forward Vinny Prospal enters the offseason with no contract, as an unrestricted free agent, but would like to come back to the Rangers.

“It’s what it is, I’m not 26 anymore, so it goes from year to year and like I said hopefully I’ll be back here,” Prospal said. “This is a fun team to play (with) and I would like to continue here.”

Injuries and age, though, might keep the Rangers away. Prospal missed the first 53 games of the season with a knee injury. While he came back against the odds, he said he had a roller coaster season as his play wasn’t consistent.

He said he’s skipping the World Championships and strengthening the quad muscle and other muscles around the knee to get ready for September—hopefully with the Rangers.

• • •

Forward Ryan Callahan, who missed the playoffs with a fractured ankle, said his injury is progressing like it’s supposed to and everything should be OK in a couple of weeks. He said he could have returned for the Stanley Cup or Conference Championships. He said watching the team, instead of playing, wasn’t easy.

“It’s pretty tough. You battle with these guys all year, you work so hard and you get to the best part of the year, the most fun, and you’re sitting and having to watch, it’s a tough thing to do and something I didn’t enjoy,” Callahan said. “It’s part of the game and it happens and now I know next year going into the year I want to be right back there and I want to be playing.”

• • •

Forward Sean Avery is heading into the final year of his contract of a rough year in which he was a healthy scratch in five of the team’s final 11 games, and the first playoff game He scored just three goals, his lowest since his rookie season in 2001-02.

He said it was a difficult season and he was happy with how he played in the playoffs, saying he let himself go, instead of worrying about things that he said he can’t worry about. Avery calls his style of play risk-reward.

“I don’t want to talk how I played because ultimately we’re sitting here, our season is over with, but I felt like I played the type of game I’ve played and I think that game helps a team,” Avery said about his playoffs performance. “Is it always going to be perfect? But over the long haul, and the course of a season, I think that is going to be beneficial.”

• • •

Forward Brandon Dubinsky had a career-high 24 goals and 30 assists for a career-high 54 points. He said he wants to be more consistent next season, which will be his fifth in the NHL, and he’s focusing on getting his mind in the right place.

Dubinsky is a restricted free agent and hopes his contract negotiations go smoother than last time, when he held out in 2009 before getting his contract. He will not play in the World Championships.

“I’d like to get it done as quick as possible,” Dubinsky said of a new deal. “I think the Rangers want me and I want the Rangers so end of the day we might as well not waste each other's time and draw it out as long as it was. At the end of the day, the sooner it’s done, the sooner I can focus on putting all my energy and efforts into this organization.”

He said the stress fracture in his left leg from earlier in the season was possibly related to the skate he wore.

• • •

Goalie Henrik Lundqvist said he’s still disappointed that the team got eliminated from the playoffs and said the team had an opportunity in Game 1 and Game 4, both games in which they had third-period leads, but the team has to move on. He said he was in a good place physically and mentally as he started the final 26 games of the season.

• • •

Forward Brandon Prust said he will start training in three weeks, probably going to a beach to relax in the meantime. He played all 82 games for the Rangers, battling through all his minor injuries to score 13 goals and notch 16 assists. He said the summer will be a good time to heal and he took pride in his streak, saying he didn’t want to leave the lineup because he had to scratch and claw just to get in there. He said being traded to the Rangers was the best thing to happen for his career.

• • •

Defenseman Dan Girardi, who played with a dislocated finger in Game 5 and later needed an x-ray and stitches, didn’t seem to make much of his toughness. He said he just needs rest to heal his injuries.

“It was pretty tough but it’s that time of year where we needed everyone to be playing and play hard and just have to kind of suck it up and get out there and battle through whatever you have,” Girardi said. “Everyone is nicked up here and there and it’s the thing you have to do at this time of year.”

• • •

Defenseman Marc Staal said he does not need any medical procedures on his injured knee, just rest. He wasn’t able to remember the official diagnosis. He said it was just sore all the time, but rest will be good enough.

• • •

Backup goalie Martin Biron, who missed the last 18 games of the season with a fractured collarbone, said he will be fine in a couple of weeks and expects to start working out in a few weeks. He will be back with the Rangers and is ready to work with Lundqvist, who started every game with Biron sidelined.

• • •

Rookie Derek Stepan said he had a good first season and he is ready for a good summer of training, looking to get stronger, faster and shoot harder, among other things. He said he plans to go back to his home state of Minnesota, but is not sure if he is going to take summer courses to work toward getting his degree.

• • •

Rookie defenseman Ryan McDonagh said starting the season with AHL Connecticut was a good thing and he learned a lot playing with the Whale and it fueled his desire to stay with the Rangers when he eventually was called up.

He is not sure if he will play in the World Championships, but would love to, and does not regret leaving the University of Wisconsin early. McDonagh said he’d like to work toward his degree.

• • •

Forward Erik Christensen said he felt better in his second year with the Rangers than his first year, saying he had longer stretches of feeling good and playing with confidence, and fewer stretches where he didn’t feel confident. He finished with 11 goals and 16 assists.

Rangers practice notebook: Torts' guarantee

April, 21, 2011

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- He’s not going to guarantee a victory, but Rangers coach John Tortorella will guarantee there will be no lasting negative effect from the crushing 4-3 double-overtime loss to the Capitals on Wednesday.

“We’ll be ready to play Saturday [in Game 5],” Tortorella said. “I guarantee you that, we’ll be ready to play Saturday.”

As the Rangers stand on the brink of elimination, now trailing 3-1 in the best-of-seven series, the team is confident it has the resiliency to bounce back heading into Game 5 on Saturday afternoon in Washington. The Rangers have never won a series in the 14 times in team history the squad has trailed 3-1 in a series.

“It’s what it is. We’re professionals, everybody has to move by these things,” forward Marian Gaborik said. “We have the next game on Saturday and we want to do everything so we can come up with the win. We need one win and go from there.”

Leading 3-0 after the second period Wednesday, a 2-2 series split seemed in the Rangers' future. The team had not lost a game all season after leading in the second period.

Then it all went wrong. Two quick goals made it a game. The Capitals later tied it toward the end of regulation, and in the second overtime, a Rangers gaffe led to an easy Caps goal. Goodbye 2-2, hello 1-3.

Now, the Rangers face their toughest task of the season: winning Game 5 on the road against the Eastern Conference’s top team.

“We’ve come back a number of times this year,” defenseman Marc Staal said. “Obviously it’s different looking at it in a single game but right now that’s the way we have to approach it going into Washington and winning one game and respond in a big way.”

The Rangers, after an off-ice practice Thursday, said all the right things. It may have been a demoralizing loss, but they know there’s nothing they can do about it now.

With their season on the line, the Rangers believe playing with little margin for error toward the end of the regular season helped prepare them for a scenario where one slip-up is the difference between an extra game and going home.

Down the stretch, virtually every game moved the Rangers up and down in the standings. They had to show toughness during the final month to pick themselves up after some bad losses, including one that put them on the outside of the playoff picture with one game left. They learned how to fight for each and every point with all their might -- and not let the pressure weigh them down.

To get into the playoffs, the Rangers had to beat the Devils on the last day of the season. While beating the lowly Devils at home is a world of difference from having to win in Washington in Game 5, there are similarities.

“Common thing is the biggest thing and that’s that we have to win. We have to win to keep it going,” forward Brandon Dubinsky said. “Whatever it takes we have to do it and I keep going back to it but this team has shown when our backs are against the wall and we have to accomplish something, we’ve been able to do it.

“I really believe in this group and believe that our guys in here, I know we are a good enough hockey club to beat those guys, we just got to go out and play our best game because we know they are going to play their best game.”

In two days, we'll find out if the Rangers were full of false confidence or if they had the fortitude to overcome the loss. Tortorella would be shocked if it isn’t the latter.

“I’ve been with them for how many months?” Tortorella said when asked why he’s confident the loss won't linger. “I know the team. I know who they are.”

GOOD AND BAD GABBY: Unfortunately for Gaborik, his first playoff goal won’t be the goal he’s remembered for when the series is over. Instead, it will likely be his role in the double-overtime score Wednesday night.

In double overtime with the score tied at 3-3, a puck deflected off a Ranger and moved toward Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist, who readied himself to cover the loose puck. Gaborik, who said he did not know Lundqvist was going to cover, tried to clear the puck and it landed right in front of Washington’s Jason Chimera, who scored the easy goal with 7:52 left in the second overtime to stun the crowd at MSG.

“I should’ve seen Hank going for it I guess,” Gaborik said. “It was just kind of a fluky goal.”

That play overshadows perhaps Gaborik’s best game of the series, as he scored for the first time in a month. With the Rangers up 1-0, Gaborik took a perfect back-handed pass from Ruslan Fedotenko and scored from right next to the net to give the Rangers a 2-0 lead. Gaborik took just four shots in the game, but appeared more confident on the ice in his 28:21 of playing time, even having a breakaway chance in overtime.

“I felt good, chances were there, too bad a couple of those didn’t go in but I have to carry it over,” Gaborik said. “Obviously the play at the end of the game, it’s a bad bounce there, but I have to jump over it and put it behind and focus on the next game. It’s no sense to beat yourself with that because it is what it is and I have to go forward and focus on the next game and take positives from Game 4.”

THE POWER PLAY: By now, the Rangers' power play struggles are old news. Just 1-for-18 in the playoffs, after a 1-for-27 stretch to end to the regular season, the Rangers' power play simply isn’t effective. In Wednesday’s loss, the Blueshirts managed just four shots on seven attempts.

“When we approach Saturday, we’re going to need that, something good is going to have to happen with that,” Tortorella said. “We know that. We’re trying to fix it. They’re trying to do well with it. We’ll see how it goes as we go through the next couple of days.”

Gaborik added that the team has to try and get more shots through and shoot whenever there is an opening, instead of waiting for another opportunity to present itself.

Rangers notebook: Game 4

April, 21, 2011
NEW YORK-- Entering the locker room after the second period with a 3-0 lead and a world of confidence, it all went south for the Rangers in the third period as they yielded three goals and the game went to overtime, where they ultimately lost 4-3 in double overtime.

Captain Chris Drury had an interesting take on the team’s third period play.

“I think we got tight all of a sudden,” Drury said. “In between the periods we talked about staying with our game. We just got away from it. We weren’t making plays, we got tight and we were on our heels.”

Added forward Brandon Dubinsky: “I thought we could have been around pucks more and been on the forecheck but it is tough to say. It was a tough game. Obviously it is a tough outcome. “

Coach John Tortorella said the Rangers gave the Capitals two free ones in the third period, turning the puck over and losing coverage on a back door play.

BOUDREAU CLEARS THE AIR: Public enemy No. 1 on this night was Washington coach Bruce Boudreau, who was serenaded with various chants throughout the night, including “Boudreau Sucks” and “Can you hear us?”. Boudreau made comments Monday saying the fans didn’t get that loud at MSG.

After the game, Boudreau tried to atone for his comments, saying he might have made a mistake

THIS AND THAT: Wednesday’s game was the ninth-longest game in Rangers history...New York is 2-5 vs. the Capitals in overtime in the playoffs...The Rangers were one second short of tying the franchise record for quickest successive goals...Dubinsky led all forwards with 33:17 of ice time...Goalie Henrik Lundqvist’s 49 saves are a playoff career high...Artem Anisimov scored his first career playoff goal...Dan Girardi played a career-high 39:45...Brian Boyle had a career-high 10 hits.

W2W4: Gm. 1 Rangers vs. Capitals

April, 13, 2011
The 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs get underway tonight. Here's what to watch for when the Rangers clash with the Capitals at 7:30 p.m. in D.C. Preview link

A Fast Start

This is a multi-stage note. If the Rangers can get out of the gates quickly with a goal or two, they can help rekindle some memories of past playoff nightmares for the Caps. Claim Game 1 in a lopsided manor and the Blueshirts can not only steal home-ice advantage from the East's top seed, but they can plant the seeds of doubt in a team and fan base that has experienced nothing but playoff disappointment since the franchise returned to prominence. It could also trigger a goalie controversy considering the Caps are still slightly torn on which netminder -- Michal Neuvirth or Semyon Varlamov -- should get the start. But even after the first goal the Rangers can't let up. The Caps own the league's best winning percentage when trailing after the first period at .489.

Green and Blue lines

Caps top D-man Mike Green is expected to dress for the first time since suffering a concussion against the Rangers on Feb. 25. Despite his high skill level, he's likely to be a little rusty as he tries to get back to game speed. Couple that with his turnover tendencies and the Rangers may be able to force a few giveaways if they can apply some pressure to him. On the other end of the ice, the Blueshirts blueliners aren't exactly drowning in playoff experience. This will be the first postseason for Matt Gilroy and rookies Ryan McDonagh and Michael Sauer. New York will certainly need them to play with the poise they've shown during the regular season to contain the Caps' multiple weapons.

Captain Clutch

Remember that handle? Chris Drury rekindled memories of it with his oh-so-timely goal to tie the score at 1 vs. the Devils in Game 82. How will he carry over that play to the postseason? It will be interesting to see if his ice time increases at all as the series progresses. I'd imagine that the Rangers would send him out a little more often in faceoff situations anyway. Drury is the team's best faceoff man and the Caps rate as a top-five team in the circle. The Rangers? 25th overall. In tight games where every draw (and ensuing shot) can make a difference, just winning a few key faceoffs may be Drury's biggest contribution, but it's one that should not be overlooked or undervalued.
<a href="">Michal Neuvirth</a>

Torts is no fan of the tie-breaker

April, 9, 2011
And now ... they wait.

The locker room mood was upbeat in the wake of the Rangers' 5-2 victory over the New Jersey Devils in the regular season finale, but also anxious as the team waits for tonight's Carolina-Tampa Bay game. As has been mentioned countless times in the past two days, if the Canes win, they're in the playoffs ahead of the Rangers even though Carolina would only have 41 wins compared to New York's 44.

Vinny Prospal and John Torterella aren't exactly loving that fact.

"I don't get this," Prospal said, dressing up his confusion with some rather colorful language. "The other team doesn't have as many wins as us. So, if it's not going to count, what the [heck] is the shootout for?"

"I’m pissed off at the whole circumstance and I’ve kept my mouth shut," Tortorella said. "I understand we make our own bed, we had some inconsistency, especially at the end of the year we had some clunkers. That falls on us. But I just don’t get it. 44 wins to 41, maybe, and we’re going to be [out] when we should be in the playoffs."

Tortorella was a little more explicit with what the Rangers would be doing with their spare time, but I dressed it down a bit. It was Kids Day after all.

The Rangers coach was also rather emphatic that missing the playoffs would not diminish the team's season as a whole.

"I’ll tell you right now, I’m not going to be talked into. I’m not going to be talked at. I’m not going to listen to any bull[crap] about what kind of year this season was," Tortorella said. "There are too many good things that have happened with this club and we’re on the right road and we’re doing it the right way."

While he conceded that the team needs to increase its skill level to get where they want to be, presumably Stanley Cup contenders, he was firm in his belief that the team is going about the process the right way, noting the strong play of young players like Ryan McDonagh and Michael Sauer.

Take it to 'em, Tampa

While the prevailing thought is that the Lightning will rest its stars and mail in tonight's game against Carolina to prepare for the playoffs, Tortorella thinks otherwise.

"I know it's going to be handled the right way. That bodes well for the league and hopefully for us," he said, noting that he will not be watching the game.

When asked if there was "money on the board," an expression meaning that a strong performance will be rewarded with a cash incentive, Tortorella wryly replied: "Not cash ... " He was also asked if he or any of his players would try to get the word out to Tampa to play hard tonight. While NHL tampering rules come into play, Tortorella noted, mischievously, "There are always ways." Take that as you will.

"It's going to be tough," Drury said regarding watching tonight's game. "It's always hard, but at least we did our part. Now we're just going to have to sit and wait and watch."

"Our part"

As I wrote in the Rapid Reaction, 14 different Rangers had at least one point in today's game. And those who didn't get on the scoresheet were contributing in other ways, particularly Brian Boyle who was a one-man wrecking crew on the ice.

"We emptied the tank today," Boyle said. "Even when we were down 2-1 we were flying around, hitting everything we could. That was a fun game to be a part of. Blue collar, that's the way we had to play today and the way we have to play all the time."

Oh, Captain!

In his surprise return, Chris Drury might have scored the most important goal of the Rangers' season. And it certainly had the locker room buzzing afterward.

"He's worked extremely hard just to get back here," Prospal said. "Getting into playing shape isn't easy to do. He showed a lot of character coming back and I'm so glad he scored that goal because it shows what kind of person he is."

"I can't even explain what happened to the bench when Dru scored," Boyle said. "I'm so happy for the guy. He's our leader and he did exactly that tonight."

"I'm just happy to be part of it again," Drury said, noting that his 7:48 of ice time met his expectations for how much action he'd see today.

"That’s good stuff," Tortorella said, beaming. "I'm so happy for him. He catches more [crap] out there in all kinds of ways."

The goal was his first of an injury-plagued season in which he's played just 23 games and averaged 12 minutes per.

Rapid Reaction: Rangers 5, Devils 2

April, 9, 2011

Recap | Box score | Photos

They sure made it interesting at the start, but the Rangers' postseason hopes still have a pulse. Here's how it all went down in Game 82 at the Garden.

What It Means

The Rangers' playoff hopes are still alive after downing the Devils on Saturday afternoon. Now they'll need some help from a Tampa Bay Lightning squad that's already locked in to its playoff spot and will likely just be happy to escape the game without injury. If the Bolts beat the Carolina Hurricanes tonight, the Rangers will be in the playoffs.

An Ominous Opening

It didn’t take long for the Devils to apply some serious pressure on the Rangers when Nick Palmieri got a piece of an Ilya Kovalchuk shot to stake the Devils to a 1-0 lead two minutes into the game. The early marker prompted some grumbling from the Garden crowd, but the Rangers righted the ship pretty quickly. Thanks to a surprising source.

A Hero’s Welcome

On the first shift of his first game back since injuring his knee Feb. 3, Chris Drury provided an instant impact, netting a badly needed tying goal just a minute after the Devils took the lead. The goal made John Tortorella look like a prophet, saying before the game that Drury's "been known to make big plays." Um, yep. The goal keyed a 16-minute stretch in which the Rangers were electric, throwing huge hits and nearly taking the lead when Ruslan Fedotenko was stymied by Martin Brodeur at point-blank range. It was the final minute of the period, however, that proved to be a problem.

Gut Punch

After a period of high-energy, hard-hitting hockey, the Rangers had one bad shift and they paid the price. The Devils kept the puck pinned in the Rangers zone for what seemed like an eternity and a broken stick by Derek Stepan wasn’t helping matters. Had he had his twig, maybe Stepan could have fired the puck out of the zone. Instead Kovalchuk collected the biscuit and shot a missile over Lundqvist's blocker with 41.8 seconds left in the period. The Rangers were back against the wall.

Second Life

Ryan McDonagh picked a heckuva time to score his first NHL goal. After Wojtek Wolski started the second period scoring spree, McDonagh put the Rangers up 3-2 with a wrist shot off a behind-the-net feed from Vinny Prospal. Wolski's goal got the Rangers rolling 1:52 into the second period when he streaked down the left wing on a 2-on-1 and beating Brodeur to the short side. Brandon Prust added to the lead when he pushed home a shot flipped onto goal by Brandon Dubinsky. Not Brodeur's finest moment, but the Rangers weren't complaining. After the Prospal scored on a feed from Artem Anisimov in the third period, 14 different Rangers had recorded a point. Everyone was contributing Saturday.

What’s Next

Get your popcorn and Pepto ready for tonight’s Carolina-Tampa Bay game, which will decide the Rangers’ fate. A win by Carolina and the Rangers’ season will be over. Anything less and the Blueshirts will battle the Washington Capitals in the first round of the playoffs.
Rangers President & General Manger Glen Sather said he does not expect injured center Chris Drury to return this season during a conference call on Monday. Drury, who has missed 41 games this season, has missed the Rangers past 10 games after arthroscopic knee surgery on Feb. 11.

“He’s a question mark. He’s probably the biggest question mark of all of (the injured players). I don’t think he will be back.”

Drury, in his fourth season with the Rangers, missed the first two games of the season and then fractured his finger on Oct. 15 and missed the Rangers following 29 games. He has just four assists on the season with no goals.

While Sather’s outlook on Drury was bleak, he expects the other sidelined Rangers to make returns at some point this season, including forward Marian Gaborik. Gaborik has missed the Rangers past three games with concussion-like symptoms.

“I met with him today and he said he felt good all day today and he’ll wait to see what he feels like tonight,” Sather said. “He’s been getting some headaches at night but they’ve been less and less and I think he’ll be back before too long.”

Sather added that he doesn’t expect Martin Biron (collerbone) back until the end of the season, Derek Boogaard (concussion) is starting to work out and feel better and will probably return and Marc Staal (knee strain) will return. While Ruslan Fedotenko (shoulder) was inactive Sunday against Tampa Bay, he played Friday against Washington.

Said Sather: “I expect all of them to be back at some point in time.”

The Drury injury impact

February, 9, 2011
I guess it just wouldn't be right if the Rangers didn't have at least one prominent player on the IR.

Captain Chris Drury will be on the shelf for six weeks with a knee injury that will require surgery. That puts him back in the lineup around the end of March if the estimate proves correct. If that's the case, the Rangers will have to make do without their captain for all but the final seven or so games of their playoff push.

The good news is that the Rangers, hard up in the goal-scoring department, won't miss much in terms of point production. After returning from a broken hand that landed him on the IR at the start of the season, Drury has just 4 assists and no goals in 23 games.

What they will miss however, beyond his oft-mentioned intangibles, is Drury's prowess at winning draws. At 56.2 percent, Drury leads all Blueshirt centermen who have taken more than 200 faceoffs. That shouldn't be overlooked either. The Rangers have been atrocious at the faceoff dot this season, winning just 46.1 percent, the third-worst mark in the league. Currently, only Brandon Dubinsky sits over 50 percent with more than 200 draws. That hurts, particularly in key situations such as special teams when winning the puck can make the difference between clearing the zone or setting up the power play. And in close games, that be the difference between a win and a loss.

The Rangers may give Vinny Prospal a few more faceoff opportunities now that he's healthy again. He posted a mark of 51.2 in 639 draws last season. The Blueshirts could also recall Kris Newbury, who won nearly 60 percent during his eight games in the bigs this season.

Drury will also leave a hole on the penalty kill, particularly with Ruslan Fedotenko still out. On average, Drury logs the fourth most minutes per game on the PK behind Ryan Callahan, Dubinsky and Brian Boyle, with an average of 1:45.

Update: Just checked in with Matt Wuest, the actual Cap Geek behind Here's what he had to say about how Drury's injury could impact the Rangers' trade deadline approach.

"Without any LTIR relief, they can already add a full-season cap hit of about $10.8 million on deadline day. That's probably going to be more than enough to acquire whoever they want. There are scenarios where the Rangers could gain additional cap space by placing Drury on LTIR for the rest of the season, but it is too early to say exactly how much."

So there you have it, sounds like the Rangers have plenty of space in the old shopping cart, now will the see anything they like on the market?

Consistency the key for Rangers

January, 21, 2011
One night after a 7-0 smothering of the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Rangers allowed the Carolina Hurricanes to open up the game and skate away with a 4-1 win that left Blueshirts bench boss John Tortorella labeling his team’s defense as “brutal.”

To anyone watching Thursday night’s game, the Rangers showed little resemblance to the squad that dismantled Toronto, or the team that topped NHL-leading Vancouver earlier this month. Of course, that sort of fluctuation is nothing new for the Rangers this season.

Looking back at the Rangers’ schedule, the longest points streak the Blueshirts have been able to run off is four games -- a pair of wins over the Islanders and Devils Dec. 27 and 29, bookended by OT losses to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Only once this season have the Rangers won three consecutive games in regulation, downing Toronto, Boston and New Jersey in October.

But those short streaks have been highlighted by some very impressive wins: 3-2 over Chicago (Nov. 1), a pair of wins against Pittsburgh, a 7-0 spanking of Washington and that 1-0 win over Vancouver among them.

Following the win over the Canucks, Brian Boyle noted that everyone in the Rangers’ locker room believes the team is capable of beating anyone on any given night. But he also noted that to join that upper echelon of elite teams, you need to do that night in and night out. To this point, the Rangers have been unable to do that.

Injuries have played a major factor in that up-and-down behavior. It seems like every week the Rangers welcome a replacement from Hartford to the lineup while watching one of their key players -- Marian Gaborik, Chris Drury, Ryan Callahan, Brandon Dubinsky -- recover from an injury. It’s tough to develop much of a flow if you’re always starting and stopping, teaching new players and adjusting to new roles.

If the Rangers can enjoy just a month of good fortune on the injury front, it will be interesting to see what they can do with it. But for now, they’ll have to find consistency in their constant state of roster flux.

Down goes Dooby: What Rangers will miss

January, 19, 2011
Well this isn't going to help.

With the Rangers on a two-game skid and having failed to score more than two goals in a game since the start of 2011, losing leading scorer Brandon Dubinsky to a stress fracture in his Fibula is probably the last thing the Blueshirts needed. Early estimates place him out of action for three to four weeks, a stretch that could likely define the Rangers' season.

Already without Ryan Callahan, as he recovers from a broken hand, (not to mention Erik Christensen, Alex Frolov and Vinny Prospal) the Rangers will now be absent another forward -- one who sets the tone for this team through his combination of strength, energy and skill. Dubinsky currently leads the team with 17 goals and 21 assists, as well as a team-high 124 shots on goal.

There's no word, yet, on how Dubinsky sustained the injury, but given the team's -- and particularly Dubinsky's -- propensity to give up their bodies to block shots, it seems like that will be a reflex diagnosis. Think again.

The Fibula is actually behind the shin bone and covered from behind by the calf muscle, so it doesn't seem like blocking a shot would cause that injury. But I'm not exactly Dr. House, so take this with a grain of salt -- though my amateur speculation is sound per one source. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, a stress fracture is caused by fatigue in the muscles, not blunt force like the impact of a puck. The athletic example from the AAOS (linked above) states:
"Stress fractures often are the result of increasing the amount or intensity of an activity too rapidly. They also can be caused by the impact of an unfamiliar surface (a tennis player who has switched surfaces from a soft clay court to a hard court); improper equipment (a runner using worn or less flexible shoes); and increased physical stress (a basketball player who has had a substantial increase in playing time)."

Again, that's just what I've read (Damn it man, I'm a blogger, not a doctor!) and we haven't been given an official cause yet. For those curious though, Dubinsky has averaged 20:07 in ice time this season, but was under that figure each of the past three games. Dubinsky is the Rangers' leader in ATOI among forwards and ranks 14th among forwards league-wide in that category.

The burden now falls even more heavily on the remaining healthy forwards to produce. The Rangers will absolutely need Wojtek Wolski and the struggling Marian Gaborik to start finding the net with regularity. And they'll likely also need Brian Boyle and Chris Drury to provide some of the other intangibles that Dubinsky flaunted on the ice.

And oh yeah, the Blueshirts will miss Dubinsky in the faceoff circle too, where he holds the second-highest win percentage among regulars at the dot. When matched on a line with C Derek Stepan, Dubinsky would often take the draws for the rookie (who sports a rather horrific 37.5 win percentage). That option is gone for the next month. Time for another Mark Messier tutorial methinks.

Wolski: Gaborik chemistry 'pretty good'

January, 11, 2011
After a snowy trip back to the Hume dojo so I didn't have to sleep at MSG tonight, here are Notes and Quotes to wrap up the contest with the Canadiens.


Head coach John Tortorella's explanation of the game was pretty straightforward: "They scored, we didn't." He wasn't just being glib, either. Admitting his team wasn't particularly "great" tonight, he correctly pointed out that the only thing separating the two clubs was a goal. For all their chances in the first period and in the final flourish of the third period, the Rangers could never get that second goal and it cost them.

Despite falling back from their ferocious opening burst, captain Chris Drury said the team's effort level never faltered. He did however note that a change in the flow of the game may have set them back a bit.

"I think the power play may have slowed us down a little bit, just like it slowed down St. Louis the other night," Drury said. "You just have to be able to keep the momentum going or build the momentum even if you don't score on the power play."

Drury also sited the Habs' disciplined defense for taking some of the starch out of the Rangers attack.

"They play a pretty disciplined trap. They try to hit you and they're quick. They have pretty good sticks so you know they're looking to turn you over and go the other way."

Jim McIsaac/Getty ImagesWojtek Wolski hit the ice just one night after the Rangers acquired him from the Coyotes.

First Impressions

As noted in the Rapid Reaction, Wojtek Wolski earned high marks in his first game with the Rangers.

Though the official shot total only credited him with one shot on goal, he rang another off the pipe -- and possibly Alex Auld's back -- late in the third and I swear he threw another off Auld's skate after that. Wolski skated nearly 19 minutes, all of it, or just about all of it, with Marian Gaborik. The two wingers clearly complement each other quite nicely. And Wolski thinks so, too.

"I thought the chemistry on our line was pretty good," Wolski said. "We're pretty similar in thought in terms of what to do with the puck and every once in a while we'll switch it up and put it on net. I think we're going to complement each other well; it's just a matter of getting a couple of practices to get used to each other, get the hang of the system a little bit.

"I think a couple of times I was a little late on the forecheck because I was still thinking about where to go on the ice. But overall I think it was a pretty good effort and I'm disappointed we didn't get the two points."

On what he particularly liked about the chemistry with Gaborik tonight: "I think we did a good job of getting their D to back off. A lot of the time you know that if they come at you in the middle you can chip it wide and he [Gaborik] will get there first. I thought we had the puck a lot down low, took it to the net and created opportunities. Their goalie played well and they won, but we definitely had a lot of chances."

His new captain agrees with Wolski and liked what he saw.

"I think he brought a lot to us tonight," Drury said. "You know he's going to bring a lot to us the second half here. Skating with the top six guys, he's going to get a lot done here I think.

"It's obvious he plays at a pretty high skill level. Just after one game you can see the hands he has, the skating, some of his moves. He's only going to get better and better playing with the guys after tonight."

Tortorella applauded the initial effort as well.

"He certainly was around the puck and had a number of opportunities to score," the coach said. "I thought he played hard. You can see his talent level. I thought he played a good game."

Note of the Night

I wrote in the Reaction that the assist by Henrik Lundqvist was his fourth of the season, but I forgot to mention it was also his third in the last four games. Not sure what that means, but maybe the Rangers' youthful blueliners will have some extra help moving the puck out of their own end.

The Rangers are back in action Thursday against the NHL-leading Vancouver Canucks, who pulled out a shootout win over the Islanders on Tuesday night. We'll be back in Rapid Reaction mode then. See ya when the snow clears.

W2W4: Rangers vs. Flyers

December, 17, 2010
Yeah, we're a little early on this one, but with a 1 p.m. start time on Saturday against the Flyers we figured we'd get a jump on the action. Here's what to watch for when the puck drops in Philly.

Instant Impact

You hear about intangibles all the time but Chris Drury gave everyone a great example of why he's so highly regarded on Thursday night. With Martin Biron struggling in net after giving up two early goals, the Rangers' captain tapped Biron's pads with his stick and told him to show some sarcastic fans chanting for Henrik Lundqvist what he's really made of. Biron responded, allowing just one more goal (on a Phoenix power play) and stopping all three Coyote shootout attempts to seal the comeback. Biron credited Drury's support after the game. Oh yeah, and the captain assisted on Derek Stepan's game-tying goal in the third. Pretty well-rounded night in his second game back.

Special Teams Slippage

Over their last five games the Rangers have struck on the power play, previously a point of concern for the Blueshirts, but their strong suit has taken a hit as well. Over that same stretch the Rangers PK percentage has slipped, 70.6 percent compared to their season average of 81.7. Meanwhile the Flyers' power play has struggled this season (16.6 percent), but their last four games they've been improving (21.4 percent) and with all the offensive weapons in Philly, you have to think that second number is closer to their true capabilities. The Rangers need to refocus when they're down a man.

Elite Company

The Flyers currently stand as the NHL's top team, but the Blueshirts hold the third most points in the Eastern Conference. A win over Philly, after claiming games against Pittsburgh and Washington in the past seven days and the Rangers would seem well on their way to joining that upper echelon of teams in the Eastern Conference on more than a passing basis. Their edge against the Flyers? Lundqvist. King Henrik has dominated the Flyers to the tune of a 14-8 record over his career. Sure, he lost 4-1 in the first meeting between the teams this season, but two of those goals came on the power play. He was particularly dominant at Wells Fargo Center last season, posting a .964 save percentage and a 1.31 GAA.