Consummate Professional. A born leader. The heart of a warrior. “Captain Clutch.” All those phrases & adjectives can describe your Rangers’ captain Chris Drury. Unfortunately, so can these. Aging. Not a 7-million a year player. Fragile. No place on the team. Should give up his captaincy. All of the aforementioned characteristics of Chris Drury are valid.
However, the Rangers have progressed as a team without their captain in the lineup. Since February 3th (when he was diagnosed with his knee injury) the Rangers have only gone 11-9 but are surging lately, having won 5 in a row and 7 of 8. The team is playing well and at the perfect time. And with Drury rehabbing at the moment to make a return to the Rangers, management will have a tough decision on their hands; do they sit their captain for the good of the team? Or do they slot him back in?
Reading the Rangers’ headlines today in the NY Post and Sports Illustrated will steer you towards the notion of how Drury is still effective in the faceoff circle and on the PK. Here’s an excerpt from Larry Brooks’ article for today.
“Drury has been limited to 23 games this year in the wake of a twice-broken finger and the knee issues that all but debilitated him. But though he may not be an offensive force, his contributions at the dots would be vital to this Rangers team that is 28th overall in faceoff efficiency at 47.2 percent, better than just Carolina (44.2) and Edmonton (44.0).”
While I agree having Drury back for the playoffs would be a good influence on the rookies lacking playoff experience and would be a boost for faceoffs & the PK, I believe Drury’s productive playing days are behind him. He has shown his age this season, having played limited games due to his finger and a knee injury. He has 0 goals and 4 assists on the season. When he was playing, coach Tortorella admitted he had conversations with Drury about using him in a limited role and none of it being as an offensive factor.
Frankly, would it make that much of a difference if Drury was in the lineup versus being out of it? I don’t believe so. The Rangers have plenty of forwards that can play effectively on the PK and not get hurt every time they go to block a shot. They still have Brandon Dubinsky (51.6%), Vinny Prospal (56.4%) and Brian Boyle (48.2%) to take important faceoffs. Personally, I don’t believe having Drury’s faceoff prowess in the lineup would be the make-or-break factor to the Rangers advancing deep into the playoffs. It will boil down to timely goal scoring, great defensive play, and Henrik Lundqvist carrying the Rangers on his back.
Who would sit for Drury if he were to return? Wojtek Wolski? Mats Zuccarello? I understand their collective lack of defensive responsibility but they bring offensive potential and youthful exuberance that Chris Drury simply lacks at this point in his career. However, if Wolski keeps putting out the same pedestrian effort he has the past few games, he will find himself in the press box rather quickly.
If Drury does rehab himself in time to play games, the Rangers will have a tough decision on their hands.