John Tortorella finally admitted it.

The Rangers coach yesterday put definitive words to what he has inferred for weeks, coming to terms with the fact that maybe the lockout and the shortened preparation for this 48-game season has to be the cause of his team's lackluster start, especially when it comes to secondary scoring.

"It's such a strange year with a lot of teams, a lot of players struggling because of a lack of camp," Tortorella said as his 2-3-0 team prepares for tonight's Garden match against the Flyers. "Let's face it, that's the reason."

What prompted Tortorella to make that admission were more questions about the sustainability of his top line — Rick Nash, Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik — who through five games have combined for 18 of the team's total 36 points.

"It would be nice to keep that line together, but other guys need to get going," Tortorella said. "I can't get a dependency there because if that struggles, we have no chance.

"I have got to find a way to get [other players] into some situations where they get some confidence back. So that's where it comes, maybe splitting that line up."