Another of the Rangers' older players is out---before the season begins.
Rookie Derek Stepan and Erik Christensen scored in the shootout at the Garden tonight as the Rangers edged the Ottawa Senators 5-4 to raise their preseason record to 4-1. But the loss of Vinny Prospal for several weeks to a right knee problem overshadowed the win.
“We’re going to keep him off the ice for a couple weeks,” said coach John Tortorella, “then put him on the ice and see how it reacts. He’s frustrated. It’s not so much as pain, we’re just going to try and rest him.” Tortorella said the damage wasn’t structural and the team called the issue "inflammation/swelling."
Prospal, 34, was the Rangers second-leading scorer last season, with 20 goals and 58 points. He was scheduled to center the No. 1 line for the first time, but his right knee, the one on which he had arthroscopic surgery Dec. 29, flared up after yesterday’s practice and was sent for an exam. Tortorella spoke to the doctors after the game; Prospal was not available for interviews.
Captain Chris Drury (broken finger) who has been sidelined since Sept. 20, will probably open the season on injured reserve and he could have company with Prospal.
“It’s a concern because it’s been lingering” Tortorella had said before the game. “In a perfect world you want guys to get some time (in pre-season). I’m not worried about his condition, anything about him, attitude-wise, you’d just like to get some game action. That’s important. I worry about all that. You don’t play any exhibition games and it keeps on coming back, sure, it’s a concern.”
Because Prospal will be unable to answer the bell, it will make management’s decision of which forwards to keep easier. There will be 14 healthy forwards, leaving Todd White and his $2.375 million salary as the casualty if they decide to keep just 13.
White, who has been rehabbing from off-season shoulder surgery, was acquired from Atlanta in the deal that shipped Donald Brashear and Patrick Rissmiller out. “He’s one of those guys on the bubble”, said Tortorella. “By no means am I saying he’s out of here; he’ll play (Saturday)”
There are still nine defensemen in camp, but Michal Rozsival (groin) did not dress last night and won’t tonight, said Tortorella. D Steve Eminger looked rusty and was a minus-1, but it could have been higher. Prospects Michael Sauer and Pavel Valentenko will dress tonight in Ottawa, their last chance to impress and be among the final seven.
Mark Staal, who scored the third period goal to tie the game at 4 on a solo dash from mid-ice, banged his hip against the boards while finishing the terrific play and probably will rest tonight….Henrik Lundqvist, who made 28 saves in regulation at OT, stopped Jason Spezza and Peter Regin in the shootout….Derek Boogaard, who hasn’t scored in 222 regular season games, tied the game at 3 in the third period…The fourth line played very well. Boyle scored a second-period goal on a long slapper under Brian Elliot’s glove. Brandon Prust assisted on both goals and had three hist in 9:54 of ice time….Erik Christensen, who was scheduled to sit, jumped in for Prospal, but Stepan, who also scored his second goal of the season---a shorthander---in the second period, was between Marian Gaborik and Alex Frolov in the third…Ruslan Fedotenko (assist) leads team with six points. … The Rangers coughed up a 2-0 lead, but rallied to tie the game at 3, and again at 4…Alex Frolov had no shots and was denied in the shootout by Elliott. Marian Gaborik had one shot, as did Christensen