The greatest gift for the New York Rangers over the Christmas weekend break might not be a bow-adorned Lexus or some electronic gadget, but rather a few days of rest. They certainly seem like a banged-up bunch judging from a report by Jeff Z. Klein of the New York Times Slap Shot blog.
Surely the biggest story is that Marian Gaborik didn’t play during today’s practice and is expected to miss Thursday’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning because of groin problems. Gaborik is renowned around the hockey world for two dramatically different things: being an all-world talent yet often being unable to share his gifts due to constant injury problems. He’s already missed 13 games this season because of flu and shoulder ailments, but his most common snag has been groin injuries. He missed much of the 2005-06, 06-07 and 08-09 seasons because of those issues.
Rangers coach John Tortorella said he doesn’t think it’s serious, but it’s still tough not to get squeamish when you hear about Gaborik dealing with such problems yet again.
On the bright side, Mats Zuccarello – a man with an astounding nickname: “The Norwegian Hobbit Wizard” – was called up to replace some of Gaborik’s offense. His nickname comes from his talent, but also his below-NHL-standard size because he stands only 5-foot-7 tall. Klein writes that Tortorella “hopes to get him in offensive situations.”
There are some other injury situations in the Big Apple, so let me leave those to Klein.
Defenseman Michael Del Zotto, who has a stomach illness, will also miss Thursday’s game. Tortorella said Matt Gilroy would take Del Zotto’s roster spot.
Forward Vinny Prospal skated in a full practice for the first time since having an operation on his right knee in October. He said he found it difficult.
“When we were doing three-on-twos and game situation stuff, it was way too fast for me,” Prospal said.
Prospal, Tortorella said, “stunk today, but that’s to be expected.”
Tortorella said he hoped to have Prospal back in mid-January.