The first two Rangers on the ice for the team's optional morning skate Wednesday were forwards Brandon Dubinsky and Mats Zuccarello, both of whom have been rehabbing injuries and have yet to play in the Eastern Conference Finals. While Zuccarello remained on the ice long after most other players were finished, Dubinsky took a pretty quick twirl and then headed off the ice.
While that may have seemed to be a bad sign, it actually may be just the opposite for Dubinsky. With John Mitchell staying on the ice late with the other scratched players this morning, it would seem that Dubinsky may indeed be ready to return to the Rangers lineup for the first time since suffering an undisclosed injury in Game 1 of the opening-round series with Ottawa.
Dubinsky was not available for comment after the morning skate, and head coach John Tortorella offered no information on his lineup.
In addition, Brandon Prust will return to the lineup this evening after being suspended by the NHL for Game 4; and it would appear that Stu Bickel will dress as the sixth defenseman as Steve Eminger also was skating late with the other scratched players.
Michael Del Zotto was one of many Rangers who chose not to take part in the optional morning skate---joining Henrik Lundqvist, Marian Gaborik, Ryan Callahan, and Brad Richards, among others. Word leaked out Monday that Del Zotto's grandmother had passed away Saturday and that the young defensemen was playing with a heavy heart in Game 4 Monday evening.
"I'm sure it was really difficult for him," Brian Boyle said after the skate Wednesday. "There's a lot on the line here, a lot at stake for us, and such a high-pressure situation, but it's nothing compared to that. My heart goes out to (Del Zotto) and my heart goes out to his family. I think he did a pretty good job of keeping his focus (Monday). He battled, had a couple tough plays there, but was great on the bench. He's going to bounce back (tonight), but that's a separate thing altogether from what he's going through."
Among the scratched players on the ice taking part in the morning skate today were Connecticut Whale call-ups Tim Erixon, Kris Newbury, and Cam Talbot.