NEW YORK -- Sean Avery will not be in the lineup Sunday night as the Rangers play host to the Florida Panthers at Madison Square Garden.
Erik Christensen, a healthy scratch since Nov. 23, will replace Avery in the lineup.
"I don't think Sean's been dead-on," Rangers coach John Tortorella said. "Having said that, he hasn't had a bunch of ice time. I'm just having problems finding ice for him. I have other guys that are filling the areas and doing the things that I need done. I'm a little concerned about shootouts. We've struggled a little bit there."
Avery is averaging less than 6 minutes per game in the Rangers' last four games. Christensen is one of the best in the NHL at shootouts, and the Rangers are just 1-3 this season in the breakaway contest.
Before the season, Tortorella awarded the final roster spot to Christensen and sent Avery to the AHL. The coach said he felt Avery wasn't one of the team's best forwards, but that changed at the end of October. Avery was placed on re-entry waivers and rejoined the team on Nov. 1. The Rangers are 12-2-1 since Avery rejoined the team.
Avery has 3 goals in 15 games, but has fallen out of favor yet again with Tortorella.
"Sean played some good games for us when he came up," Tortorella said. "I think it's leveled off. But I'm trying to be fair to him also. I haven't put him on the ice, and it's awful difficult to play that way. But I have other players doing the things I need done in other situations that Sean just isn't getting involved in. I want to give Erik another chance and also, the shootout."
When asked what Tortorella wants from Christensen now that he's back in the lineup, he gave the answer he always gives about the streaky 27-year-old.
"Consistency," Tortorella said. "Whenever that question's asked, that's the first word. He's done his work as far as being out of the lineup. He works hard. You can see he shows signs of his talent, his skill. But again, it's a shift here or a shift there. We're hoping that he becomes more consistent."
Christensen is expected to see more ice time than Avery has received lately and will be part of the second power-play unit. He has a goal and 3 assists in 14 games.
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