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Time is running out on perplexing Rangers

New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist looks down

New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist looks down after Montreal Canadiens' Sergei Kostitsyn scored during the third period. (March 16, 2010) Photo Credit: AP

GREENBURGH, N.Y. - Only three times in this perplexing season have the Rangers strung together more than two wins in a row - a seven-game stretch from Oct. 3 to Oct. 14, four games from Dec. 17 to Dec. 23 and three games sandwiched around the Olympic break.

With only 12 games left and likely needing at least seven or eight wins to claim the eighth and final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference, that track record doesn't bode well for the Blueshirts.

The team's coach can't seem to push the right buttons either. John Tortorella is still juggling lines to find productive combinations. Asked Wednesday if, 70 games into the campaign, he was frustrated at still having to fiddle with lines, he answered tersely: "Yes."

Tortorella clearly wasn't pleased with the effort of his club in the 3-1 loss to Montreal on Tuesday that left them three points behind Boston for the last postseason spot, or the analysis of his captain, Chris Drury, who said the Rangers' "immaturity" hurt them.

"I think that's the wrong word to use by Dru and we've ironed that out within the locker room today," Tortorella said in response to a question.

Asked about the line changes, in which Marian Gaborik was split from Vinny Prospal, the most productive duo all season, he said: "Gabby's got to get himself going."

Gaborik, the team's leading scorer, has one goal in his last six games. Olli Jokinen is scoreless in nine. "Not to point fingers at one, two or three players, though," Tortorella said. "That's a crowded bus."

The bus stops at the Garden to close a homestand Thursday against the Blues and then rolls up to Boston Sunday.

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