For a team that can't afford to lose any scoring, the Rangers have suffered a big loss. Vinny Prospal had arthroscopic knee surgery Monday and will be out up to three weeks, leaving Marian Gaborik without his running mate and creating a scoring void on the top line and power play.
The team said Prospal could return in as few as 10 days. He apparently suffered the injury in Saturday's 3-2 overtime loss to the Islanders when he took a slash to the knee, although it didn't force him to miss any time. He did not practice Sunday and an MRI revealed the injury.
Prospal, 34, has been nothing short of a revelation. After the Lightning bought out the final three years of his contract, the Rangers signed him to a one-year, $1.15-million deal Aug. 16. Reunited with John Tortorella, who coached Prospal through two different stints from 2001-03 and 2005-08, and paired with Gaborik, he had 11 points in his first eight games as a Ranger.
His exuberance was a bonus, and Tortorella named him an alternate captain in November. He has eight goals and 24 assists in 38 games, all but a couple as Gaborik's linemate at even strength and on the power play.
The Rangers have scored two or fewer goals in 21 of their 38 games. Even though Prospal's scoring has slowed, they can't afford to lose a steady producer for as many as 11 games.
Tortorella already had discussed bringing up a seventh defenseman, so Bobby Sanguinetti or Michael Sauer could be recalled and the Rangers could plug Erik Christensen back in the lineup. Or they could recall a forward. P.A. Parenteau already has spent 14 games with the big club and center Evgeny Grachev, 19, could get a look.