Whatever lifeline the Rangers were extended when Scott Gomez’s ribs turned out to be just bruised instead of broken, the team is not about to get greedy.
Still reporting discomfort and limited range of motion, Gomez missed practice today, and ended up only riding the bike (he did have the ability to send text messages while on the bike, so it can’t be all that bad). He will most likely miss at least tomorrow’s season series finale with the Flyers, and seeing how he isn’t even yet back skating — and said he even had trouble making breakfast this morning — I’d be skeptical about Thursday against the Devils as well.
But as I said earlier, Gomez’s absence will mean a return to the lineup for Petr Prucha, who has been out for the last 16 games. The left wing will take Marty Straka’s place with Chris Drury and Ryan Callahan, while Straka is reunited with Jaromir Jagr and Brandon Dubinsky. This also means Sean Avery will move to center between Brendan Shanahan and Nigel Dawes.
“It’s just been waiting. I was waiting for my chance,” Prucha said. “It’s actually sad that I can play just because Gomer is injured. But that’s how hockey is. So I’ll try to help the team as much as I can.”
Some other notes:
<li>Another player eligible to return is Paul Mara, who Tom Renney said was now fit enough to play but likely won’t. As of last week it sounded like Mara would step in for Christian Backman as soon as he was ready. But Backman may have bought himself at least a little more time with his three-assist effort on Friday.
<li>The Rangers Sunday game in Pittsbugh will be their last of the regular season on NBC. The network tabbed Chicago-Detroit for Sunday April, 6, while the Rangers will close the regular season in New Jersey.