Chris Drury's point totals have steadily gone down over the three years he has been a New York Ranger. Last season was arguably his worst, as he only scored 14 goals and 32 points in 77 games played. And defensively, where he is usually strong, he was a minus-10 rating on the year. With that said, what should we expect from Drury in his third year as Captain, fourth as a Ranger?
First off, Drury is entering the season fresh off the IR with a broken finger. No details have really been revealed as to how severe the injury still is, only that it is healed enough to play with. So whether or not that will affect Chris' game early on remains to be determined. It will not be easy for him to just jump into the lineup after missing half of training camp, either. It is going to take some time before he gets back into his usual groove, that is for sure.
But centering the first line between Alexander Frolov and Marian Gaborik as coach Tortorella had set up in practice Wednesday, should present Drury with the opportunity to score a few more than he is used to. Granted, there is no timetable on how long he will be with that first line, but I can guarantee you that if he shows chemistry with his wingers in Friday's home opener, Torts will keep them together in hope that there will be some production from his top offensive trio. Because let me tell you, through two games the first line has done very little.
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I also think that some of the pressure that has weighed down on Drury's shoulders in past seasons will be gone this year since Redden is now in Hartford. You would think that those two are not directly related, but for some reason they are. Both players have contracts that do not fit what they bring to the ice, therefore the fan base assumes an automatic hatred for those individuals. Now that some of the wasted salary is no longer on the team, I think the fact that Drury is overpaid will not have as big as an affect on the fans' opinion of him.
We have seen it already in Michal Rozsival, who believe it or not, has received some praise through training camp and early on in the regular season. With Gomez and Redden gone, the "big four" is only a "big two" now, and is not strapping the team down as it once was. I understand if you do not see me eye-to-eye on this one, it is a personal opinion, but I believe that it is true.
All of that aside, I am a fan of Drury; I have stated that in the past and will state it again. Obviously his contract is not too pleasing, but I appreciate his effort and he does have offensive skill. A two-time thirty goal scorer does not "suck" as some of the fans walking around Madison Square Garden claim. He is a valuable asset to this team and his penalty-killing is crucial.
And the most important thing of all? Drury understands Tortorella and Tortorella understands Drury. This is something I have picked up on since day one of these two being together. That is why Drury is still captain, because Torts knows what is best for him.
Look, I am not looking for thirty goals. I am not looking for 60 points, either. But I am expecting a big year from Drury in other areas of the game. Whether it be winning the big faceoff in the defensize zone, blocking a shot while killing a penalty with a one-goal lead, or scoring the game-winner in overtime, I am excited to have Chris' clutch play back in the lineup.