Ranger captain Drury prepared for revamped team
After the Rangers bowed out of the Stanley Cup playoffs, Chris Drury used his left hand to congratulate the Capitals on the handshake line. His right one had was fractured by a shot in the regular-season finale against the Flyers and Drury managed just one point against Washington.
For the second consecutive offseason, the team has been re-engineered. Among the departed are Scott Gomez, Markus Naslund, Nik Zherdev, Nik Antropov, Paul Mara, Blair Betts, Fredrik Sjostrom and Lauri Korpikoski. Asked if he was shocked by the shipping to Montreal of fellow center Gomez - who arrived with him as a free agent two years ago and together were heralded as the pivots of the future - Drury replied: "Ten years ago, I might have said yes."
Instead, Drury, who turns 33 in two weeks, stands alone in a leadership role on a team with a slew of new faces although one, former Sabre Ales Kotalik, is quite familiar. The two played together during three seasons in Buffalo and Drury hopes they can recreate some chemistry. "I'm sure he'll be getting off a lot of shots," he said. "Everybody knows he has a great shot."
The Rangers won't have much of a shot at advancing in the playoffs without improving their 29th-ranked power play, and Drury believes former Minnesota wing Marian Gaborik will "be a big boost . . . he's so fast, he creates space for other players and he creates shots for himself."
As for the acceptance in the room of enforcer Donald Brashear, who kayoed Betts with a blindside whack to the face in the Caps series, Drury said, "I don't think any guys will have a problem. If anybody does, they can come see me."
Before training camp, the next step for Drury - who played on the 2006 U.S. Olympic squad and the silver medal team in 2002 - is the team's three-day invitational camp on Aug. 16 near Chicago. "It would be a huge honor to be a part of three," he said.