NEW YORK – Things are about to get tough for the New York Rangers (1-1-1) who lost two-thirds of tonight’s top line to serious injuries on separate plays in the second period of a 4-3 overtime loss to Toronto (4-0-0) during New York’s home opener.
Chris Drury, playing in his first game after breaking a bone in his left index finger during pre-season, suffered a different break on the same finger and will be out for six weeks.
Marian Gaborik suffered a separated shoulder on a second period hit by Colby Armstrong, and will be shelved for 2-3 weeks.
Rangers coach John Tortorella also announced veteran Vinny Prospal, yet to play this season, will have surgery on Tuesday and is out indefinitely. He could be lost for the entire season.
Before the game, Tortorella spoke about what it meant to the team to have Drury back, a return that lasted about 25 minutes.
“He’s our captain. I think teammates are cognizant of that, when a captain’s out,” Tortorella said. “The way he plays, he does a lot of the little things. He brings an intangible. I think he’s grown as a captain in the room. You want him back in there. He’s well liked, he’s well respected, and I think players see when he’s not in the lineup.”
Tortorella also announced that center Erik Christensen should be ready to play on Monday, when the Rangers host Colorado.
The biggest loss, though, is Gaborik. The Slovakian winger, who played all but six games last year, will miss at least six over the next two weeks, and as many as ten if he’s out exactly three weeks.
Gaborik was hurt when Armstrong boarded him at 2:33 of the second period, a hit that many Rangers players took offense to. Sean Avery took a roughing penalty against Armstrong at 9:56 of the second in retaliation, but the damage had already been done.
“It was a bit of a hit from behind,” Callahan said of the check by Armstrong that felled the Rangers top skater. “There’s no secret it probably happened because it was Gabby. We’ll take care of that when the time comes.”
“It’s a loss, no matter what. That sucks,” said Brian Boyle, who scored two goals in a game for the first time since April, 2009. “Give him credit, he wanted to stay in. He wanted to come back. He’s our best offensive player. He’s a leader on the team. It’s too bad for him and too bad for all of us.”
“Without him, that just means the other guys are going to step up and try to pick up some slack,” said Brandon Dubinsky.
So now, the Rangers will have to find a way to make do without their best player for close to a month, and their captain for a month-and-a-half.
“If it is any extended period of time, that just means the other 22 guys will have to step up,” Dubinsky said. “I don’t think anyone else is going to step up and score 40 goals, but pick up the slack and we’ll just find ways to get some wins without them.”
Sean Avery had two assists in the game, giving him 100 points as a Ranger.
Ruslan Fedotenko, Berek Boogaard, and Steve Eminger each had their first points as Rangers. Each had one assist in the game.
Henrik Lundqvist’s 34-save effort is already his second contest with 30 or more saves of the season. He had 21 games of 30 or more saves last year.
John Tortorella post-game: