The All-Star break came and went, the Rangers received a much-needed week off from the ice and viola the team's injury report took a 360 turn for the better.
They returned to practice on Monday with 24 players on the ice and five full lines.
Dan Girardi and Ryan Callahan will both be suited up when the Rangers host the Pittsburgh Penguins tomorrow night; Brandon Dubinsky (shockingly) has a chance to play; Vinny Prospal will be back in the lineup on Thursday; and Erik Christensen is very close to returning.
Girardi was out for the past two games with a strained rib cage muscle, which he injured in a fight against Andrew Ladd.
The team's do-it-all player, Callahan, has been out since the Dec. 15 game against the Penguins (19 games) with a broken hand he sustained after blocking a Kris Letang shot. This is obviously a huge return to the lineup for the Rangers, as Callahan is the type of player Tortorella has modeled this team after. Callahan does it all on the ice and will boost the lineup tremendously.
Dubinsky, who was expected to miss three-to-four weeks with a hairline fracture in his leg, but has only missed five games, will not rule himself out for tomorrow's game. He skated hard before practice and participated fully in practice afterward. John Tortorella, normally very cautious when dealing with his player's injuries, also did shoot down Dubinsky's prognosis, leaving it to the doctors and how Dubinsky feels tomorrow to make a decision. This is not an injury that will get any worse, it's solely a soreness issue right now for Dubinsky. As the team's leading scorer and a blossoming player, No. 17's (imminent) return is a welcome site.
Prospal, the team's second-leading scorer last season, had issues with his surgically repaired right knee in training camp, then had another surgery on Oct. 18 and has been working his way back ever since. He has not played a single shift for the Rangers this season. Prospal has gelled nicely with Gaborik in the past, so expect the two to be reunited on Thursday.
Christensen suffered a sprained right MCL after crashing into the goal post on Dec. 29 and has missed 14 games. At today's practice, he said that getting back into shape was the only thing holding him back -- and he called himself day-to-day, though would not give a firm timetable. Christensen is sort of the X-factor here, as with everyone returning, he doesn't have a clear role or spot in the lineup. Tortorella will have his work cut out for him when he has to write this lineup with everyone healthy.
Ruslan Fedotenko (separated shoulder) did not practice today but is slated to return in mid-February.
|2010 - Ryan Callahan||10||13||23||-2||26|
|2010 - Dan Girardi||3||20||23||8||29|