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Rangers' Gaborik could play against Bruins

Minnesota's Marian Gaborik talks to reporters after signing

Minnesota's Marian Gaborik talks to reporters after signing a new three-year contract with the Wild. Gaborik was the franchise's first-ever draft pick and helped the Wild reach the Western Conference finals in 2003. Credit: AP

GREENBURGH, N.Y. - Right wing Marian Gaborik, who is sore from skating and being treated cautiously by coach John Tortorella, could make his Rangers debut tomorrow in Boston.

Gaborik, 27, who had hip surgery last season and played only 17 games for the Wild, scrimmaged for the first time yesterday, scored against Henrik Lundqvist and practiced afterward.

"It's improving every day," he said. "I'm making the trip. I want to be out there playing."

Tortorella, who said Gaborik needs to play before the regular-season opener in two weeks, ruled him out of tonight's game in Detroit, but playing in Boston is possible.

"It's not the hip," Tortorella said. "He's sore. A lot of guys are sore. I think it's him feeling mentally comfortable with it. He will play some exhibition games; it's just when he plays them . . . I don't blame him for the way he thinks about this. I believe in pushing athletes. But you can't be stupid, either."

The Rangers pared the roster from 54 to 34, reassigning players to the Hartford Wolf Pack or junior teams. Several players on the bubble did enough pushing in the short camp and during preseason games to merit a chance to stick around a bit.

Among them were Paul Crowder, a center at the University of Alaska-Anchorage who turned pro, and P.A. Parenteau, a longtime AHLer who will vie for the final forward spots with 19-year-old Russian Evgeny Grachev, Brian Boyle and Aaron Voros.

Five defensemen - barring a disaster, Matt Gilroy has a spot on the club - are hunting for the sixth and possibly seventh slot: Michael Del Zotto, Ilkka Heikkinen, Bobby Sanguinetti, Corey Potter and Alexei Semenov. Tortorella's evaluation sounded like a warning shot across the bows of Wade Redden and Michal Rozsival. "I like what I see from the kids,'' he said. "As far as the veteran guys, I'm not crazy about what's going on there.''

Forward Dane Byers, who observers believed had an opportunity to make the fourth line, did not. Defenseman Mike Sauer, a second-round draft pick in 2005, was edged by Heikkinen because the Finnish defenseman has more offensive upside. "Heikkinen has caught our eye a little bit to take a look for a little longer," Tortorella said.

Byers and Corey Locke, who will continue training camp in Hartford to avoid waivers for the moment, will play against the Bruins, Tortorella said. Sanguinetti could see time in both weekend games. Forwards Patrick Rissmiller, Tyler Arnason and Jordan Owens also are training with the Wolf Pack. Goalies Matt Zaba and Chad Johnson will be on the trip, but Lundqvist and Steve Valiquette will finish out the final three preseason games.

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