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Trade might have restored Rangers' confidence

Confidence is a fleeting thing. The Rangers have lost it in the past month, although the trade of Ales Kotalik and Chris Higgins for Olli Jokinen and Brandon Prust, as well as four power-play goals against Washington, may have restored a little bit of it.

"We're always trying to regain our confidence," coach John Tortorella said, adding that the trade has had an impact. "It changes the atmosphere. Some guys, it motivates them."

Jokinen, who had a goal and an assist against the Caps, "will help us on the power play, take a little pressure off [Michael Del Zotto]," Tortorella said. "A key guy on our power play has been Vinny Prospal, who had struggled when he came back from his knee injury."

Prospal missed seven games after arthroscopic surgery and was 1-4-5 in the first 10 when he returned.

The power-play units "stagnate" without puck movement, Tortorella said. The coaches have worked with Marian Gaborik "to get rid of the puck. Once he holds on to it, everybody converges. If he gets rid of it, he gets himself open."

Rest stop

The Rangers have three days without a game for the first time since Dec. 27-29. In their stretch of 21 games in 39 days, they were 7-10-3 entering last night.

Only three games remain before the Olympic break, with Nashville closing out the three-game homestand Wednesday and the Rangers headed to Pittsburgh on Friday before coming home for a matinee against the Lightning on Sunday.

Tortorella, Jokinen, Gaborik, Henrik Lundqvist, Chris Drury and Ryan Callahan then will fly to Vancouver while the other players scatter, many for warmer climates.

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