GREENBURGH, N.Y. - About 15 minutes before practice Tuesday, Henrik Lundqvist and Martin Biron were at one end of the rink working with goaltending coach Benoit Allaire. That's standard operating procedure.
Stickhandling alone at the other end and firing pucks into the empty cage was Marian Gaborik. That's unusual.
"Just shooting and trying to get some motion with the stick, playing around a bit," explained Gaborik, whose next linemates will be Artem Anisimov and Ruslan Fedotenko when the Rangers (26-18-3), who have lost three of four, host the Maple Leafs Wednesday.
"I'm not blaming anything on the line changes," said Gaborik, who has scored once in the last 10 games. "Last year's lines changed, but not as much. I have to play with whoever I'm with and perform. It's the time of year, everybody's got to take it up another level, especially myself. I believe it's going to happen starting tomorrow."
Gaborik and Fedotenko played six games from Dec. 9-18, but not with Anisimov, who also is struggling, with a goal and assist in the last 10. Five of those December games were with center Derek Stepan, the other was with Erik Christensen. The Rangers went 4-2; Gaborik had a goal and three assists, Fedotenko had a goal and two assists.
"Feds is strong on the puck, he retrieves pucks, I think that will help them," coach John Tortorella said. "That's going to be his biggest role with that line, forechecking and adding pressure to the puck."
Two days after Tortorella sat Gaborik for extended minutes of the second and third periods, he supported his most skilled offensive player.
"Gabby's a pro. He understands what's expected of him," Tortorella said. "He's in a little bit of a funk. He realizes that; he's honest with himself. He's too good a player to continue to go down this road. He wants to help the team. It's a matter of understanding, to score, you need to do other things, too. If Gabby fights for pucks and moves his legs, things are going to happen for him."
Notes & quotes: Gaborik, Mats Zuccarello and Wojtek Wolski will be used as point men on four-forward power-play units . . . Gritty C Kris Newbury will play between Chris Drury and Sean Avery. LW Dale Weise will sit for the third straight and could be returned to the AHL Wednesday. "Newbs has won some faceoffs and can make a play," Tortorella said . . . D Steve Eminger will flip-flop with Matt Gilroy and play with Ryan McDonagh.