New York Rangers center Chris Drury (23) prepares for a...

New York Rangers center Chris Drury (23) prepares for a face off during the first period against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Madison Square Garden. (Dec. 23, 2010) Credit: Christopher Pasatieri

It was a small step, but Chris Drury---out since Feb. 3 with an injured knee---skated hard today with teammates and coaches this morning and hopes that his progress will continue.

"That's my ultimate goal," Drury said when asked if he might be able to return for the playoffs, but cautioned that he has a ways to go. He skated in sweats on Saturday and in full equipment on Sunday, "but that wasn't much more than cruising around." How his knee reacted tonight and tomorrow will determine what happens next. "I have no idea. Today was good, but it's not an NHL game. The goal is to continue to work out and progress every day and help this team win. I don;t want to speculate or assume...we'll see what"

In the most-injury ridden season of his 13-year career, the team's captain has played just 23 games and recorded four assists. In the home opener on Oct. 15, Drury sustained a fractured finger and didn't return until Dec. 15. He had arthroscopic knee surgery on Feb. 11.

While it has been tough watching this season, Drury, 34, has perspective. "I've been so fortunate (with injuries), in my career, missed 10-11 games with a knee sprain in Colorado, had a few concussions that could've done a lot more damage... I consider myself really lucky."

For Drury, watching games on TV has revealed what fans and critics alike have seen: "It's a fun team to watch and an easy team to like," he said noting that his teammates have regrouped after rough patches, like the loss on Long Island to grab a huge two points in Philadelphia, never an easy place to play.

My opinion: If he is in shape, and I believe he can be, Drury would be an excellent spare forward in the playoffs. He'd contribute as a third or fourth-line center/forward to win faceoffs and kill penalties. Timing might be an issue, but fresh legs, veteran smarts and a competitive attitude cannot hurt at this time of the year.

Drury could step in for Christensen, Avery, Fedotenko or Wolski if need be, depending on the situation, and in case of injury.

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