Chris Drury's season already has been a frustrating one because of a twice-broken finger and a limited role.

It's now gotten worse. Drury will undergo surgery on his left knee and is expected to miss at least six weeks, putting the rest of the season in jeopardy for the Rangers captain.

"That guy has played hard for a long time and I just think it's worn on him," coach John Tortorella said. "It certainly hasn't been getting better. He tried like hell to keep on playing, but it's just gotten to the point where he can't."

Drury missed all but one period of the Rangers' first 31 games after suffering a broken finger during a preseason practice on Sept. 20, then re-breaking the finger in the first period of the team's home opener against the Leafs on Oct. 15.

He returned on Dec. 15 to an unfamiliar role: fourth-liner, faceoff specialist and penalty-killer. He had no goals and four assists in 23 games before sitting out Saturday's game in Montreal and Monday's in Detroit with the ailing knee. He had fluid drained, but the team's medical staff made the decision to operate and see what the source of the pain is.

Drury never complained of his reduced role. Tortorella said he'd been asked whether Drury, who'd missed no more than 11 games in any of his previous 11 NHL seasons, might have been using the sore knee to avoid being a healthy scratch once the Rangers returned to full strength at forward.

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"It -- me off that some things come out about Chris Drury, about him thinking he might be out of the lineup and thinking he's given in here a little bit. That certainly is not what has happened with this guy," Tortorella said. "It bothered me, so this is a good opportunity to say it. Because he's not built that way, and we all know that."

As it stands, the Rangers have 12 healthy forwards and a 13th, Ruslan Fedotenko, who is still not due back until the end of the month after an appendectomy. So there will be less shuffling with Drury sidelined.

But the Rangers, who entered Wednesday night 28th in the NHL in faceoff percentage (46.1), will miss Drury's faceoff ability and his penalty-killing skills, particularly with Fedotenko still out.

There's also the fact that he's still the captain, one of a very few veterans with a Stanley Cup ring on a young team.

"You guys know him as well as I do, it's killing him," Tortorella said. "This has got to be done and we'll see what happens from there."

Notes & quotes: Tortorella also said D Michael Del Zotto, who has had two stints in the AHL and was a candidate for a third, will stay with the team for the foreseeable future.