Drury’s Return Delayed

It looks like Chris Drury is going to be out longer than expected. Larry Brooks is reporting that Drury’s broken left index finger is still bothering him, and that he is unable to grip a stick:

"It was not good," a disappointed Drury said on his way out of the Garden after the Rangers fell 3-1 to the Penguins.

Drury, who was initially scheduled to be out 4-to-6 weeks after re-injuring his finger during the Rangers October 15 home opener against Toronto, will be delayed by at least two weeks:

Still, The Post has learned the captain will be permitted to skate with a stick within the next couple of days before being slowly integrated into practice drills and then contact.

It was estimated that the captain would miss 6-to-8 weeks when he went down. Friday will mark seven weeks to the day.

Despite what fans may think of Drury’s contract and declining offensive production, he is the captain of this team and an integral part of its success. He is probably the best penalty killer on the team, and was one of the best faceoff guys on the team last year. Without him this season, the Rangers penalty killing sits at 82.8% (down from 84.3% last season) and their faceoff success rate sits at 44.7% (down from 49.2% last season).

At first glance, the penalty killing numbers don’t look that bad, but that 2% difference could be one goal at a critical moment that costs the Rangers two points. Even if it’s just a 2% difference, it’s better to have him in the lineup to get back that 2% than have him sitting and having Todd White taking his spot in the lineup. As for faceoffs, that is self explanatory. That extra 5% means a lot in terms of puck possession, killing penalties, and powerplay success.

The Rangers have been dealing with injuries all year, and have played very well despite missing some key pieces for a good portion of the season. Chris Drury is another one of those important pieces that the Rangers need back soon. Even if his offensive production is declining, he will be better than his replacement in the lineup: Todd White. Drury balances out the defensive responsibilities of the bottom six, will help the penalty kill, and will help the faceoff percentage. This team needs Chris Drury, and needs him as soon as possible.