It’s as if saying the words “five hundred” around the Rangers nowadays is akin to cursing.

That’s because the Blueshirts have spent just about the past month hovering around that line of mediocrity, with wins and losses evening out in equal fashion and keeping them from separating themselves as either a good team or a bad one.

“Good teams need to string winning streaks together,” Rick Nash said on Thursday night in Buffalo, after his team beat the embarrassingly bad and league-worst Sabres, 3-1. “I definitely think there’s room for improvement.”

The Rangers got stuck in Buffalo and couldn’t fly home until Friday morning, and thus canceled their practice leading up to Saturday’s Garden showdown against the Devils. But the organization certainly didn’t take the day off, as general manager Glen Sather sent minor league enforcer Brandon Mashinter to the Blackhawks in exchange for 23-year-old Kyle Beach, who was the No. 11-overall pick in 2008.

Beach will report to AHL Hartford and gives the Rangers something Mashinter didn’t — the viability of playing in the NHL for an extended period of time. Although the 6-foot-3, 208-pound Beach has underachieved significantly since being drafted — he was taken in front of players such as Tyler Myers, Erik Karlsson and Jordan Eberle, just to name three — he has shown scoring touch, netting 52 goals in 68 games in the major-junior WHL in 2009-10. That same year, he also showed some toughness, raking up 186 penalty minutes.

With Beach’s assignment to Hartford, the team also recalled J.T. Miller, who will get his second shot at sticking with the Rangers (15-14-0) after being sent down on Nov. 26. In three games with the Wolf Pack, Miller had a goal and an assist.

Yet, as coach Alain Vigneault has pointed out, it probably won’t be Miller or Beach to make the difference. The team needs its best players to start carrying the load, something Vigneault began to see on Thursday.