GREENBURGH, N.Y. - The Rangers' lack of consistency is the main reason they are where they are heading into tomorrow's meeting with the Islanders at Madison Square Garden.
Defense, offense, even goaltending - nothing's been good enough for long enough to get the Rangers going.
The most maddening inconsistency of late is the power play, which was very ineffective in Boston on Sunday, with the Rangers unable to even set up in the Bruins zone on advantages of 3:24 and 4:00.
The Rangers still own the 14th-best power play in the league at 18.1 percent efficiency (49-for-271), but have a 1-for-16 slump over the last three crucial games, all losses.
"Right now, it's not working," said Michael Del Zotto, who along with Marian Gaborik has been the constant on the power play. "We've gone through spots when we've gotten two or three a game on the power play and it's really clicking, too. We come in with a good game plan, but we find a way not to execute it."
Keeping it simple was the key phrase Tuesday, from Del Zotto to Gaborik to John Tortorella; movement, with and especially without the puck, is something the Rangers' power play has to do more of. "That forces PK units to adjust," Tortorella said. "It's been a point of contention for quite a while."
Ryan Callahan is another regular on the first unit, and he may still play Wednesday despite sitting out a second straight day of practice with what's believed to be a knee injury. Sean Avery returned to practice after missing Monday's workout with a leg bruise.
Tortorella dropped Olli Jokinen off the top power-play unit, reflective of Jokinen's minimal impact since he arrived from Calgary - two goals and eight assists in 16 games - and Tortorella said Jokinen "needs to be better. And he knows he needs to be better."
The Rangers did score three power-play goals in a Dec. 17 win over the Isles, their only victory in four games against their local rivals. Neither team is in good position, with three points separating them and in 10th and 13th place in the East.