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Vinny Prospal Skates With Team, Might Make Return Tomorrow

NEW YORK - DECEMBER 23:  Vinny Prospal #20 of the New York Rangers celebrates his third period goal against the Florida Panthers on  December 23, 2009 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
Tonight's Healthy ScratchesCorrespondent IJanuary 11, 2010

Vinny Prospal found himself in a familiar area this morning at practice: alongside Marian Gaborik.

Prospal, who sported a regular practice jersey, had been out of the lineup since Dec. 28 following arthroscopic knee surgery.

Prospal, who signed a one-year, $1.1 million contract with the Rangers after being bought out of his former deal by the Tampa Bay Lightning, is second on the Rangers in assists (24) and points (32), both behind linemate Marian Gaborik.

The question for the Rangers is, who sits?

The Rangers (4-2-1) during Prospal's absence, have found steady chemistry between their lines, an area that was spelling the Blueshirts for most of the season.

When Prospal went down, waiver-wire pickup Erik Christensen, slid into the No. 1 center position, shifting Brandon Dubinsky to Prospal's vacant spot.

During those seven games, Dubinsky and Christensen each scored seven points, while Gaborik tallied five.

Reports from practice indicate the lines are as follows:

Prospal-Christensen-Gaborik

Dubinsky-Drury-Callahan

Higgins-Anisimov-Avery

Brashear/Voros-Boyle-Kotalik/Lisin

If coach John Tortorella was smart, he should take Donald Brashear and Aaron Voros out of the equation completely.

A fourth line consisting of Ales Kotalik, Enver Lisin and Brian Boyle down the center, would allow him a lot more leeway. It also allows the fourth line to play a regular shift, which I think is how it should be if this were the case.

Boyle and Lisin have both proved they deserve a fair amount of ice time. I haven't seen one shift taken off by either player in several weeks.

The offensive talent is clearly there with Lisin. It's mind-boggling why he isn't given a crack at the top-nine on a regular basis.

Boyle, on the other hand, also shows flairs of offensive ability. He is a big body and is nowhere near a defensive liability, hence his role on the penalty kill.

Kotalik, although under performing, has come along these past few games. He also possesses, in my mind, the best/hardest shot on the team.

Brashear is absolutely useless to this team. He's just a liability. If he's not going to fight, he serves zero purpose.

And when he does fight, well, his fights are...dull. He's clearly not the Donald Brashear of old. GM Glen Sather needs to put his ego to the side and place No. 87 on waivers.

A fourth line consisting of the three forementioned players, would not only provide much better depth down the lineup, but it would also allow the top players a little bit of rest.

Having the fourth line play a semi-regular shift is crucial for any run the Rangers are going to make, especially with the Olympics coming up.

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