This isn’t just about Marian Gaborik breaking out in the biggest of big ways with the hat trick against Boston last night. This is about his overall performance. Throughout the game Gaborik went to the net looking for chances, for scraps, and for rebounds. He wasn’t afraid to control the puck along the boards and he was clearly quick on his skates, as we’ve become accustomed to. It also wasn’t about his finishing ability, which we all know he is at a supremely high level. Well, it was about all of that, but most of all it was about his ability to take a pounding, get back up and be willing to take it again.
Throughout the Rangers 4-3 overtime win over the Bruins, Gaborik got a physical manhandling. This came mostly from his countryman, the towering Zdeno Chara. Anyone that knows anything about hockey knows when Chara hits you, you feel it. Gaborik took what Chara had and still had plenty left in the tank to win the game for the Rangers. He fought through checks all game, including the game winning play.
Gaborik doesn’t look tentative on the puck, he doesn’t look afraid physically; it simply took him a couple of games to get up to speed – much like the majority of the roster. There’s still plenty of work left to do for the Rangers (powerplay, man coverage, line changes all spring to mind immediately) but if Gaborik’s performance – and Rick Nash’s increasingly dominant displays – are anything to by then the Rangers have finally found their way in to their season.
Gaborik and Nash are the keys to the Rangers hopes this year. They’ll be the ones that score the goals to get the Rangers where they want to be. But it all starts with health. Gaborik is healthy, he’s able to take the big physical play on the chin and he’s able to thrive despite it. That may have been the best news to come out of the Rangers first victory of the season. Rangers’ fans needn’t worry about their Slovakian sniper.