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Tortorella trying to find cure for Rangers' woes at center position

Last offseason, one of the primary needs identified by Rangers management was a No. 1 center, especially after Scott Gomez was traded to the Canadiens and right wing Marian Gaborik was signed. The void hasn't been filled, even with the acquisition of Olli Jokinen from Calgary on Feb. 2.

"We're struggling up the middle," coach John Tortorella said Thursday. "I don't think Jokinen's played well . . . I don't think he's played hard enough, either."

Vinny Prospal and Brandon Dubinsky played on the wing last night, and Chris Drury, primarily a center, was on right wing. The top two centers were Erik Christensen and rookie Artem Anisimov.

Jokinen, who has two goals in 14 games, centered the third line.

Dubinsky was paired with Gaborik and Christensen. "I'm not putting him [Dubinsky] back in the middle," Tortorella said. "At this point in time, I think he's a better wing for our team. Erik Christensen sees the ice better."

Tortorella also separated Prospal and Gaborik, although they have been the team's most productive pairing. Said Tortorella, "They stink right now together. Vinny, his effort is always there, but he couldn't make a 10-foot pass the last game. That's the way he gets sometimes."


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