Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Chris Drury Playing A Key Role Against Capitals

Jonathan Klein/Getty Images
Much has been written this season about the value of Chris Drury to the New York Rangers and most of it has to do with his lack of scoring for his salary.  The criticisms about his offensive production for his salary are clearly valid, but through three games of the Rangers series with the Washington Capitals Drury is showing where he can have an impact for this team. 
During the season the Rangers struggled with face-offs during the regular season but have seen Drury win 27 of his 35 (77%) trips into the circle during the series.  Making that stat more notable is the fact that no other Rangers center has won even 50-percent of their draws in the three games.  Because of the struggles of the other players on draws and Drury’s success, in Game 3, he only recorded 7:58 of ice time, but had 22 shifts in the game because he was used as a face-off specialist by coach John Tortorella.  In the game he went 15 of 19 on draws.  The numbers alone are impressive, but the impact it has on the game goes far beyond just the statistics. 
The Rangers are a team that when at their best possesses the puck and is able to grind on their opponent’s.  Puck possession starts with the face-off.  Winning draws allows the Rangers to work on their own game, but also keep the puck away from the highly skilled Capitals players.  Winning draws in the defensive zone allows for the team to breakout and stop the opposition from setting up their offense and Drury has been a crucial component of that in this series.
Beyond face-offs Drury has made his impact felt doing what he does in killing penalties and blocking shots.  Yes, there are a lot of players on the Rangers roster who do both of those things, but it still sends a message to every player in the room when the man with the “C” on his sweater, who has missed much of the year with various injuries, is diving in front of shots to help the team win.
It was also reported that before Game 1 of the series Drury pulled all of the players who had not seen playoff action aside and gave them an idea of what to expect which is what a veteran leader who has been through the wars before is supposed to do.  There is a lot of talk about giving Ryan Callahan the captaincy and he will certainly get it, but in his absence Chris Drury is showing why he was ever named the captain to begin with.