Brandon Dubinsky of the Rangers controls the puck against the...

Brandon Dubinsky of the Rangers controls the puck against the Tampa Bay Lightning. (Jan. 24, 2012) Credit: Getty Images

TAMPA -- Doghouse, meet Dubinsky.

If you think John Tortorella sent Brandon Dubinsky and his teammates a message by benching him for all but 5:35 against the Hurricanes Thursday night after a throwing-the-stick penalty, the Rangers' coach underlined it in bright red, saying he would have benched him again Friday night against the Lightning if he had a spare forward.

"It was just a ridiculous penalty," Tortorella said. "At a time of the season when you got 20 games left, we need to be working on other things as far as details than that nonsense. Quite honestly, if other people were healthy, he wouldn't be playing tonight. As much as I like this kid, and as much as I think he can do some good things for us, we need to start seeing it . . . now. Not that . . . Play and try to help us."

Dubinsky, 25, said to be offered in the proposed trade with Columbus for Rick Nash, has six goals and 19 assists in the first season of a four-year, $16.8-million contract. He has one goal in the last 20 games. On Monday, Dubinsky, who scored 24 goals last season, vowed to rebound in the final 22 games and said he's his "own toughest critic."

With Ryan Callahan missing a second straight game with a badly bruised and swollen foot, defenseman John Scott was moved up to the wing for the second consecutive game as a fill-in. There are no extra forwards.

Blue notesWith defenseman Michael Del Zotto (hip) sidelined for the first time this season, Jeff Woywitka dressed for the first time since Dec. 30, when he suffered a bone bruise in his foot. Woywitka, claimed on waivers from Montreal Oct. 6, returned from a two-week conditioning stint in the AHL Feb. 15 and was scratched for the next seven games. He is 1-5-6 in 26 games. "He's a lefty, that's part of it," Tortorella said. The move pushes Steve Eminger, who missed 21 games with a separated shoulder, down the depth chart.

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