Friday, October 1, 2010

Prospal returns, Drury in limbo

In what's been a mostly positive camp that includes a solid preseason, the Rangers still don't know about captain Chris Drury, who remains saddled with a broken index finger which will likely keep him out of the club's first three games. That has left the Trumbull, Connecticut veteran pivot wondering what his role will be. Especially with Derek Stepan looking like he'll stay put while Artem Anisimov's looked stronger. Also boasting Erik ChristensenTim Kennedy, Brian Boyle and Todd White, who likely is ticketed for Hartford, the Blueshirts have options.

One is versatile forward Vinny Prospal, who returns for a second year on Broadway. A Tort favorite, the alternate captain can double as both a center and a wing if needed. Considering that the club figures to keep Stepan up along with Anisimov and Christensen who should center their top three lines, that leaves Kennedy and Boyle vying for the checking line while both Prospal and Drury could be slated for the wing. Still, on a roster that lacks a go to faceoff guy, Dru's work in the circle can't be overlooked. Neither can his intangibles defensively where he's been a PK fixture along with Ryan Callahan. With him expected to be put on the injured list to start the season, figure Brandon Dubinsky, Anisimov, Boyle and Kennedy to see time shorthanded.

Tonight against Ottawa though, Prospal gets a look in the middle centering Marian Gaborik and Alexander Frolov. John Tortorella gets a chance to see what Prosp can do with the team's dynamic duo. Last year, Prospal worked with Gaborik for a good chunk before being split up. It's hard to say where he'll start but figure at least the second line with possibly Anisimov and Dubinsky.

If we were starting the season, here's what I'd like to see:

Frolov-Christensen-Gaborik
Dubinsky-Prospal-Anisimov
Avery-Stepan-Fedotenko
Boogard-Kennedy/Boyle-Prust

The blueline's still undecided but given how Matt Gilroy's looked, he seems to be back in Tort's good graces. Along with incumbents Marc Staal, Dan Girardi, Mike Del Zotto and Michal Rozsival, that leaves just two openings for vet Steve Eminger and kids Ryan McDonagh, Mike Sauer and Pavel Valentenko to compete for. We'd love to see them take both McD and Sauer but not expecting it.

How about:

Staal-Girardi
Del Zotto-Rozsival
Gilroy-McDonagh/Sauer

Perhaps Tort will mix it up, helping balance out the back end. We'll see.

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