Drury's cranky knee forces him to stay home
MONTREAL - So much for the chatter about extra depth at forward with Ryan Callahan, Brandon Dubinsky and Vinny Prospal returning. When the Rangers take the ice Saturday afternoon at Bell Centre in a bid to snap a three-game losing streak, captain Chris Drury again will be missing.
The 34-year-old forward's left knee - which had been "cranky" for a few weeks, according to coach John Tortorella - was swollen after the Devils game Thursday night, and Drury was being examined before the Rangers flew here Friday afternoon. Center Erik Christensen, who has missed 16 games with a sprained knee, will return Saturday against the Canadiens.
It has been a troubling and non-productive season for Drury, who played just 8:34 in the 3-2 loss to New Jersey. He missed 31 games with a twice-broken left index finger and has been relegated to fourth-line status, penalty-killing and faceoff specialist duties. The three-time U.S. Olympian, who has one season remaining on a five-year, $35.25-million deal signed in July 2007, has played in 23 games, with no goals and four assists.
"He's had a cranky left knee and it's progressively gotten worse," Tortorella said. "It's gone on a few weeks and flared up last night. He's played this game hard for a long time and I think it's a little bit of wear and tear."
Christensen, 27, who has been practicing with the team this week, skated on a line with Sean Avery and Mats Zuccarello. He told reporters Monday that he probably was a week away from returning. Christensen (6-8-14 in 37 games) was injured Dec. 29 against the Devils and was expected to miss four to six weeks. "I think he'll fit right in," Tortorella said. "He's excited to play."
Notes & quotes: Tortorella did not name his starting goaltender, but all indications are that backup Martin Biron will face the Canadiens . . . D Michael Del Zotto stepped in for Steve Eminger the last two games but it was unclear who will dress Saturday.