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Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Torts on PP struggles: 'We're in a jam'

By Katie Strang

The Rangers’ most pressing issue at the moment is pretty obvious.

The abysmal power-play has already cost the team a few games, and will continue to be a major obstacle if not rectified soon.

After an 0-for-5 performance in Tuesday’s 3-1 loss to New Jersey, the Rangers now rank dead last -- 30th place -- in the league with the man-advantage.

The Rangers have converted on only three of 35 power-play opportunities this season -- a feeble 8.6% -- and don’t have the luxury of time to fix matters.

“We’re in a jam and we don’t have a lot of time to continue to work ourselves out of it,” coach John Tortorella said. “We gotta try to get it straightened out.”

Tortorella has seen flashes of improvement, but each time progress seems to be derailed by a step backwards.

Point blank: the team needs its stars -- Rick Nash, Brad Richards, and Marian Gaborik – to find the back of the net.

“We need some really good players to make some really good plays and we’re not getting really good plays from our really good players consistently enough,” Tortorella said.

That may eventually translate into some personnel changes -- even Tuesday, 19-year-old prospect J.T. Miller earned some power-play time with his impressive play -- and some introspection for the coaching staff.

Tortorella said he wants to back off his club a bit, rather than hammering for the special teams’ ineptitude.

“I’m trying to stay away from criticizing so much because it really doesn’t help ‘em,” he said. “We need to do it together and until we do it we’re in a jam.”

Tactically, there are some areas that need to improve.

“I don’t think we’re coming into the zone with enough speed and another thing is, I think we’re not retrieving pucks well enough,” said Nash, who has only one point on the power play this season. “Once we get it in and there’s a battle for the puck, it seems like the other team’s always coming up with it. Those are the two main things right now that we have to work on.”

It’s hard to fault Nash for the unit’s anemic performance. The big-bodied forward has been one of the team’s best in his first few weeks on Broadway, but hasn’t even had the puck on his stick during some key man-up opportunities this season.

The unit’s inability to produce seems puzzling, considering the firepower they have up front. But Nash insists that pressure isn’t what’s holding them back.

“I think anytime with special teams, there’s expectations. It’s no different here,” he said. “Special teams wins you games. You’ve got to score on the power play and you’ve got to keep goals out of your net on the penalty kill and we haven’t been doing it. I think that’s why we’ve lost some games.”