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John Tortorella Shuffles Lines Again, Trying To Find Right Combo

NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 17: (L-R) Vaclav Prospal #20 and Marc Staal #18 of the New York Rangers yell from the bench during their game against the Washington Capitals at Madison Square Garden on November 17, 2009 in New York, New York.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Rob CristinoCorrespondent INovember 23, 2009

As the New York Rangers continue to spiral out of control in November, head coach John Tortorella has once again changed his lines, looking for that perfect combination which will jump-start the struggling offense.

The latest experiment, which is likely to fall apart, puts Ryan Callahan on the third line, centering Enver Lisin and Ales Kotalik. No, that’s not a typo. Ryan Callahan will be playing center on Monday night (at least for the start of the first period).

Callahan, who has been primarily a right winger for a majority of his NHL career, is more than willing to try a new role with the Rangers.

"I think it shows he [Tortorella] has confidence in me,” Callahan said to Andrew Gross of Ranger Rants . "He's giving me a different role. I think I just have to step up and show I can do it. Guys have to step up and he’s looking at me to do it."

The offensively challenged Christopher Higgins will be back where he belongs at the left wing position, after a trial run at center failed miserably. Higgins hopes to get his game in order by playing the wing on the Rangers' top line, consisting of Marian Gaborik and Vinny Prospal.

Artem Anisimov will center Sean Avery and P.A. Parenteau on the second line, while the fourth line consists of Donald Brashear, Brian Boyle, and Aaron Voros.

Don’t get too attached to these lines though, as they are sure to change a few more times during tonight’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Looking to salvage the final game of their three-game homestand, the Rangers (11-10-1) will be tested once again in a tough matchup. The Blueshirts have dropped the first two games, of this current homestand, with losses against the Washington Capitals and Florida Panthers.

As the Rangers have dropped four of their last five games and have just three wins in their last 10 games (3-7-0 in that stretch), they must find a way to score more goals and play a sound defensive game.

To put things into a better perspective, the Rangers are currently tied for last place with the rebuilding New York Islanders (23 points) in the Atlantic Division.

"Every good team has a balanced attack," said Prospal.  "I don't want to throw anyone under the bus, but sure we need goals from other people to chip in."

Goals from players like Callahan, Higgins, Kotalik, and Avery would be a nice start.

Meanwhile, the Blue Jackets (12-6-3) are playing with confidence, despite a 4-3 shootout loss to the Nashville Predators this past Saturday. The Blue Jackets have at least a point in nine of their last 10 games (6-1-3 in that span) and should give the struggling Rangers a tough game.

The Rangers host the Blue Jackets tonight at 7:00 PM.

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