Inconsistency best defines the Rangers so far in this lockout-shortened season.

They have won consecutive games just once heading into tonight’s game with the Islanders at Madison Square Garden, which follows Tuesday’s 3-1 loss to the Devils. Ranking last in the NHL with a 3-for-35 power play – 0-for-5 against the Devils – is a key reason.

And coach John Tortorella knows time is running out to correct that.

"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 after Wednesday’s optional practice. "We [the coaching staff] need to take responsibility along with them. Certainly I’m not putting all the onus on the players.

"We need to do it together and, until we do, we’re in a jam," he said. "We’ve got to try to get it straightened out."

How is the question. So far, Tortorella admits, he’s still searching for the correct answer.

"We’re having constant conversations with our guys on how to get this straightened out," Tortorella said. "Are we giving too much? Are we not giving you enough? Are there too many options? We’re trying to get this figured out to where there’s a flow to it."

After Tuesday’s loss, Tortorella bemoaned that some of his players were playing "tentative and scared," threatening the jobs of those who continue to do so. "I’ll tell you right now, I’m not waiting. We have some guys that are very tentative, very careful, and we don’t play careful hockey," he said

Tortorella clarified his statements Wednesday, saying with a 23-man roster, three players obviously sit, but they don’t have to be the same players each game. And players won’t receive the same playing time from game to game — based on their performances.