When the New York Rangers dropped Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals to the New Jersey Devils on Monday evening, there was at least a silver lining to that dark cloud for coach John Tortorella's squad.
Brandon Dubinsky is healing day by day, and he could be ready to play as early as Wesnesday's Game 5. On Monday morning, Dubinsky skated with the team and looked "surprisingly sturdy" according to the NY Daily News, but the forward was nevertheless held out of the team's Game 4 loss.
When asked by those reporters if he could estimate how close to 100 percent he felt, Dubinsky was Belichickian in his response:
This team doesn’t do percentages. I’m not sure if you’ve talked to Torts or not, but it’s usually a yes or a no, and tonight it’s a no. So we’ll keep going, keep working on my conditioning, and it’ll keep feeling better and hopefully we’ll get to a place where I can be in the lineup.
With the series now tied at 2-2, and the Rangers having gone to the maximum seven games in both their playoff series so far, any fresh legs that can skate are more than welcome.
Andrew Gross of the Bergen Record tweeted some news on Tuesday that was again positive but nebulous:
Brandon Dubinsky again says he's feeling better but no other update on whether he'd be available for Game 5.— Andrew Gross (@AGrossRecord) May 22, 2012
Who will win the series?
Things continued to look positive for Dubinsky after the team's Wednesday morning skate:
Based on pre-game skate, appears Dubinsky, Bickel, Prust all in, Mitchell and Eminger stay out skating extra. Zuccarello also out late.— Andrew Gross (@AGrossRecord) May 23, 2012
Dubinsky has been ailing for a while now and hasn't played in a game since April 26. That was the Rangers' decisive Game 7 victory over the Ottawa Senators way back in the conference quarterfinals. Dubinsky was on ice for 11 minutes and notched the assist on Dan Girardi's game-winning—and series-winning—goal.
Dubinsky is coming off a disappointing regular season in which he tallied just 10 goals, down from 24 in 2010-11. While he was looking to make up for it in the playoffs, his assist on Girardi's goal in Game 7 was his lone point of the postseason.
But with each game comes another chance to be a hero, and with a Stanley Cup Finals showdown against the Los Angeles Kings only two victories away, any player that notches a point has a good chance to be one of those heroes. This writer predicted the Rangers would hoist the Stanley Cup this season, and I continue to believe in this lunch-pail group.
Certain players have stepped up to fill the void when the opportunity presented itself. After Brian Boyle went down with a concussion against Ottawa, rookie Chris Kreider shined in several games and has worked his way into the lineup. He has continued to produce against the Devils with three goals in the first three games.
While their power play has been better against New Jersey, these Rangers are always in need of more offense. With this series now guaranteed to go at least six games, Dubinsky has a good chance to be back on the ice against the Devils for another shot at redemption, perhaps as soon as Game 5.