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Dubinsky nearing return to troubled Rangers' offense

GREENBURGH, N.Y. - Brandon Dubinsky is just about ready to return, which is good news for the Rangers. It's not as if Wayne Gretzky was out of the lineup the last 13 games, but the team has scored 30 goals and is 4-8-1 since Dubinsky went out with a broken hand, so any little bit helps.

John Tortorella sent forward P.A. Parenteau back to Hartford after yesterday's practice to make room for Dubinsky, who could suit up Monday night for a visit from the Thrashers but seems more likely to return Wednesday at the Garden against the Islanders.

Either way, the Rangers have one of their top-six forwards back in action, which settles some other things. Tortorella hinted at other changes with Dubinsky's return: possibly splitting up the productive Vinny Prospal-Marian Gaborik pairing, or possibly something else. Gaborik was the lone Ranger to skip practice because of neck soreness from a hit in Saturday's 3-2 loss to the Sabres, but he'll play tonight.

But this is the team, and those six forwards Tortorella wants to lean on - the above three, plus Chris Higgins, Chris Drury and Ryan Callahan - will be back. Perhaps that can solve the scoring problems.

"He's an important guy. He'd be a big lift for us," Tortorella said of Dubinsky. "He's willing to hit, he's a center-ice man, he can forecheck. And maybe he can help us get some goals.

"The thing we need to be more consistent with is just trying to get pucks to the blue [the crease]. Just trying to score some ugly goals. I don't think we've done a good enough job of that. When you're pressing, you're looking for the next pass."

With the Rangers playing four games in the next six days, rookie goaltender Chad Johnson could make his NHL debut this week. "We have a lot of hockey to play before Christmas," Tortorella said.

And many more chances to break out of this scoring funk.

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