GREENBURGH, N.Y. - Rangers all-star right winger Marian Gaborik will be out of the lineup for tonight's game against Tampa Bay because of a sore groin he's had for several days, according to coach John Tortorella.

"He's out," Tortorella said after yesterday's practice, adding that Gaborik said he was sore following Monday's practice. Asked to judge the severity of the latest injury to the oft-ailing Gaborik, Tortorella said he did not have a "scale" for evaluating but was optimistic about Gaborik's return.

"I don't think it's anything real serious," Tortorella said. "He said it was sore after practice [Monday] and it was sore today and I think the next few days should help him."

The Rangers may have caught a break in the schedule; following tonight's game they don't play until Monday because of the the Christmas break, which means Gaborik has nearly a week to recover.

Filling in for Gaborik will be Mats Zuccarello, who the Rangers recalled from the Connecticut Whale yesterday. Zuccarello, 23, has registered a point in five of his last six games for the Whale, with four goals and four assists during that stretch.

Tortorella said he was not sure where Zuccarello would fit into the lineup.

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"I have not formulated my plan; I want to try to get him in some on offensive situations obviously," he said. "As the game goes on we'll see how it all works out."

Defenseman Michael Del Zotto will also be out of the lineup. Matt Gilroy will fill in for Del Zotto, who is recovering from a stomach virus.

The Rangers have dealt with missing players throughout the lineup all season; Gaborik has missed 13 games, captain Chris Drury returned to action last week after missing 31 games with a broken index finger; Vinny Prospal has been out all season as he recovers from knee surgery; Ryan Callahan broke his hand last week and Derek Boogaard has headaches and will visit a neurologist.

Despite the growing list of injured players the Rangers have managed to stay in the thick of things in the Eastern Conference. The Rangers (20-14-1) were in seventh place heading into last night's games, one point behind the Lightning (19-10-4), who played the Islanders last night.


"We've had injuries all year long and we've just gone about our business and that's what we'll do tomorrow," Torotorella said. "No matter who is in the lineup, we need to make sure we're consistent and the right way to play and the way we've been trying to play all year long."

Notes & quotes: Prospal skated again but was given a blunt assessment by his coach. "He's trying like hell but he stunk today," Tortorella said.