When right wing Marian Gaborik returns, perhaps on Sunday, after being sidelined with a separated left shoulder, don't count on Erik Christensen being his center. That is, unless Christensen shows some more consistency.
Christensen, who recorded 26 points in 49 games last season and signed a two-year deal last summer, has disappointed coach John Tortorella.
"He plays two or three good games and he falls off. I couldn't find him the last game [against the Blues]," Tortorella said last night. "We're trying like hell with him to have him understand the consistency of it all. We need his skill, but he's got to grab a hold of it in a more consistent way or we're going to try different people."
Having found some success with Gaborik and left wing Vinny Prospal (also currently sidelined), Christensen is pointless in five of the last six games and has just four points.
"It's a mental thing, as far as feeling good enough about yourself," Tortorella said. "We're not trying to run him out of here, we're trying to help him, but sometimes a player has to help himself."
Although Gaborik is "very close," Tortorella said, Prospal, who had Oct. 18 surgery to remove a bone fragment from behind his right knee, is a month or so away. "We're looking at mid to late December," Tortorella said . . . Matt Gilroy was a healthy scratch for the fifth straight game. Rookie Mike Sauer was the sixth defenseman. "There has to be a point in time that you need to go with the lineup that you think has the best chance to win," Tortorella said. "Right now, I think that is our best six."