In small doses, the Rangers' power play has clicked. The problem is that the good runs occur about once a month: Four goals in four games in late October; four straight games with a goal starting Nov. 20; five consecutive games with goals starting Dec. 9.
January's positive stretch hasn't kicked in. In the first six games of the month, the Rangers' power play is 1-for-18. Toss in an 0-for-4 on Dec. 29, and the Blueshirts are mired in a 1-for-22 skid. With a 15.9 percent success rate, the Rangers rank 22nd in the league.
Changes are forthcoming for the Rangers, who have scored just 11 goals in seven games.
Without a legitimate bomber from the point that will make penalty-killer forwards back off, the power play ends up with extra passes and fewer rebounds.
"The biggest thing is rebound chances, we just haven't created enough," coach John Tortorella said Wednesday. "Our start against Montreal was really good, and we lost our momentum because our power play was so bad . . . It's not a strong point of our game."
To try to cash in with a man advantage, the Rangers will leave newly-acquired Wojtek Wolski on the power play first unit with Marian Gaborik and Brandon Dubinsky, but probably move Derek Stepan off the point to a forward spot on the second unit with Mats Zuccarello and Artem Anisimov.
"It's not ideal," said Tortorella, who doesn't want to overuse Marc Staal and Danny Girardi, who are "playing a lot of minutes against top lines and they're in our No. 1 penalty-killing group." Matt Gilroy will get "a whack" at the point because, he said, "his confidence is growing."
Gaborik, whom Tortorella thinks is "close" to breaking out of a five-game pointless streak, said he believes Wolski "will be the right fit . . . he played well, you could see his talent level . . . Hopefully we can get the points to shoot the puck and have simple plays, move the puck and get the ugly goal in there.''
Notes & quotes: The Rangers host the red-hot Vancouver Canucks Thursday. The Canucks are 9-0-1 in the last 10 and lead the league with 63 points. "I don't like measuring sticks, I think we're a good team, too," Tortorella said about facing the Canucks. "It's [not] like big brother against little brother, we're going to play them head on and see where we land." . . . Gaborik has three goals in his last 16 games since scoring a hat trick Dec. 2 against the Isles . . . With four games in six nights, callup C Kris Newbury will remain as a spare forward.