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Rangers searching for goals, chemistry with Vinny Prospal out

No one was down, exactly, about Vinny Prospal's knee surgery and 2-3 week absence. This was already a team hungry for offense, so it's just one more challenge.

"We still want to get pucks to the net, crash the net, get some ugly goals. That's how we've had success this year," Ryan Callahan said. "We've got to continue to do that, with or without Vinny in the lineup."

Brandon Dubinsky will be Marian Gaborik's setup man for the time being, with Chris Higgins getting a crack as the left wing on that top line. Higgins, who has four goals this season on 98 shots, has had chances with Prospal and Gaborik before.

"He's done so many good things," John Tortorella said, "besides scoring goals."

Tortorella said the Rangers would not be recalling a player from Hartford today, either a forward or defenseman, so Ales Kotalik slides into the top nine forwards and Erik Christensen returns to the lineup tomorrow against the Flyers and may see some of the power play time Prospal had.

Christensen filled in as the second-line center between Callahan and Sean Avery with Chris Drury excused from practice for personal reasons. Artem Anisimov centered Enver Lisin and Kotalik, while Brian Boyle worked with Donald Brashear and Aaron Voros.

Tortorella reiterated that Chad Johnson will play at least one game sometime in the near future. We just don't know when.

Henrik Lundqvist and Gaborik were named to the Swedish and Slovakian Olympic teams in the last 48 hours. Both said all the right things -- honored, but the focus is here for the next six weeks.

The only other Olympic candidates are Prospal for the Czech team and Callahan for the U.S. squad, which will be announced Friday.

New York Sports