The Rangers Slovakian winger is having a great bounce back season and obviously a lot of that is the goals that he is scoring. He’s currently on pace for another 40 goal season and was at one stage on course for a maiden 50 goal season. That said, there are a lot of things that go unnoticed – or perhaps underappreciated – about Marian Gaborik’s game because of his injury history and elite goal scoring ability.
Gaborik has a high level of hockey intelligence; he’s not’ just’ all speed and shot. A few weeks ago his cross-ice pass to set up a Rangers goal was spectacular while during the Devils game on Tuesday Gaborik had two assists, primarily because of his ability to carry the puck and create offense himself.
Gaborik has a high level of vision on the ice which aids his line mates as well as himself. As talented as they may be let’s not overlook the fact that Gaborik is having a great season playing with a rookie call-up and a second year 21 year old as his line mates. Not the same proven supporting cast the likes of Giroux or Malkin enjoy.
During his subpar second season with the Rangers it was widely assumed Gaborik needed a quality center to fulfil his talent. While he is certainly no Pavel Datsyuk, Evgeni Malkin or Claude Giroux in regards to creativity, the assumption Gaborik couldn’t create offensive himself does Gaborik a disservice. A quality goal scorer with defensive-first teams in Minnesota Gaborik has produced without ever having an elite line-mate for an extended period of time.
It’s not all offense with Gaborik though. He’ll never win a Selke trophy but you had to have a defensive ability to play for Jacques Lemaire in Minnesota and while he’s had his share of mistakes in New York, particularly this season Gaborik has shown a willingness to back check and help out defensively. There are not many elite ‘finesse’ players that buy into the team concept the way the Slovak has done in New York. Just look at the list of gaffes Ilya Kovalchuk has on his resume since moving to New Jersey; a classic example of talent isn’t everything.
It was nice to see Gaborik get the All Star Game MVP this season. It was reward for a player that is more than often not given the credit he deserves. Rangers’ fans should appreciate they have a quality goal scorer and a quality player on their club with Marian Gaborik.